PCH blazing the trail in international cancer clinical trial

Mitch Swinbourn with Dr Santosh Valvi at PCH in the Haematology clinic
Mitch Swinbourn with Dr Santosh Valvi
October 25, 2021

A PCH patient is the first person in Australia and second worldwide to be enrolled in a clinical trial aimed at treating paediatric cancers that reoccur or do not respond to treatment.

PCH consultant oncologist and lead researcher Dr Santosh Valvi is hoping that the combination of medications being investigated in the US based trial will benefit Perth teenager Mitchell Swinbourn, who has a rare gastrointestinal tumour for which there is no known cure.

Dr Valvi and researchers from around the world are looking at how two immunotherapy-based medications work together to target tumours like Mitchell’s, which don’t respond to treatment or respond initially but re-occur.

The first of the two medications being trialled has been shown to increase a specific protein expression on tumour cells, while the second medication is intended to destroy the tumour cells by attaching to this protein.

Dr Valvi says the early involvement of PCH in the trial has the potential to benefit children all over the world.

“While survival rates for children with cancer have significantly improved over the past several decades, the outcomes for patients with relapsed or refractory tumours have not,” Dr Valvi said.

“Our hope is that this this study will benefit Mitchell and many other children in cases where known treatment options are not effective”.

Mitchell’s mum, Glenda, says the lack of known treatment options for some tumours means clinical trials give vital hope for the future.

“This trial will give the cancer community vital information that could change the future of treatment, not just for Mitchell but for children everywhere.”

“It is soul destroying to think that you can’t save your child and knowledge is power.”

The study will run for up to five years, with hundreds of children expected to be enrolled worldwide.