By Mitch Guy
THE You Are My Sunshine (YAMS) Foundation has received an incredible Christmas present, with the foundation successful in obtaining a $950,000 grant for a five-year trial to find a cure for neuroblastoma, osteosarcoma and malignant rhabdoid tumour cancers.
The research by Dr Paul Wood and funded by the YAMS Foundation has directly contributed to the success of securing the Project Grant from the National Health Medical Research Council.
The YAMS Foundation was started by Phillip Island’s Jude Donahoo in 2009 in honour of her granddaughter Kahlilla Donahoo, after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in November 2005, aged two, and sadly lost her battle in August 2008.
Jude said the funding was amazing and it had made her Christmas.
“It really is very special and it makes all this hard work worthwhile,” she said.
“There was no guarantee of funding and it was just in the back of our minds. YAMS will be contributing some money to the trial, but I don’t know how much that will be yet.
“I’m told only about six per cent of applicants are funded, so that shows how good our research is.
“What people don’t realise is the great thing about our little foundation is that whilst our concentration is on neuroblastoma, the research has had good results for osteosarcoma and malignant rhabdoid tumours.
“Because it’s three paediatric cancers, we’re able to trial our research in those three areas over a five-year period which is fantastic.”
There is no start date announced for the trial, but it will begin in 2017.
The trials conducted by Dr Wood and his team have been extremely promising so far, and the team expects the successful trials with mice to translate to children.
Looking back on her journey with the YAMS Foundation, there is a touch of coincidence with the team leading the trial.
“I promised Kahlilla I’d try to find a cure just before she died, then a few months later, after getting over the horrible grief of it all, I decided to Google neuroblastoma research,” Jude said.
“There was a lot of rubbish as usual on the internet, but I came across Dr David Ashley so I emailed him.
“I got an email back in 40 minutes saying ‘Hi Jude, lovely to hear from you, I’m on sabbatical leave at the moment in London and I’m the director of the Cancer Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital and I worked in the team with Kahlilla’.
“He said to come see him when he came back to Melbourne so I spoke with him.
“It’s come full circle because he’s now the team leader in the phase two trial. It feels like it’s all meant to be and it’s all fallen into place. I just want to save some kids’ lives.”