A gift agreement from the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust will see $120,000 per year, for the next five years, gifted to the new Wayne Francis Rare Paediatric Cancers Supplementary Clinical Trial Fund.
The new fund, managed by the Māia Health Foundation, will ensure that treatment offered to children and young people with rare forms of cancer is equivalent to that offered to children and young people in Australia.
The first trial to be funded through the new Clinical Trial Fund is treating children with Neurofibromatosis type 1 with a new medicine called Trametinib, which has shown great promise in shrinking tumours caused by the rare genetic condition. It’s anticipated between 8-10 children in New Zealand may be eligible for this trial over the next 2 years.
Christchurch Hospital paediatric cancer specialist Dr Andrew Dodgshun says a situation was emerging where New Zealand children would not be able to access treatment via clinical trials involving new and promising medications.
“The establishment of the Clinical Trial Fund has honestly been a godsend. The funding from the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust allows us to open these clinical trials, which would otherwise not be possible.”
Canterbury’s Child Haematology and Oncology Centre (CHOC) is one of only two specialist centres in New Zealand treating childhood cancer patients, the other being Starship Children’s Hospital. Starship and CHOC work collaboratively on clinical trials.
Cancer research was an area of interest to Wayne Francis, who built support for this into the WFCT Trust Deed. Wayne died of cancer in 1999. Each year funding must be allocated to cancer related research.
Wayne Francis Charitable Trust General Manager Jenn Chowaniec says the Trust is pleased to be able to align its funding in cancer research towards children and young people in New Zealand who otherwise would not be able to access the cancer treatment recommended for them.
“The Fund enables New Zealand to benefit from the developments in international research very quickly. We hope that this opportunity gives hope to whānau during what is a very tough time for them,” says Chowaniec.
Māia Health Foundation Chief Executive Michael Flatman says the gift agreement with Wayne Francis Charitable Trust will make a real difference, providing a lifeline for some families.
“Their generosity is going to enable children and young people with rare cancers to access treatment that otherwise would not be possible. There is no doubt that this gift will be life-changing for these children and their whānau.
“This is a partnership which fits perfectly with our mission to take our health system from
good to great and helps ensure our communities get the right care, at the right time, in the
right place,” says Mr Flatman.