Thanks to Gala of Hope, the fight to cure cancer is taking a giant leap forward with the launch of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas (PBTA). Dayton Children’s became a member of this initiative thanks to a seed grant from Gala.
Brain tumors are the leading cause of disease-related death in children. Even so, little progress has been made in finding a cure. Doctors still can’t say what causes many of these tumors. “We decided to do something different in Dayton,” says Dr. Robert Lober, neurosurgeon and brain tumor researcher at Dayton Children’s. “We decided to make a living biobank. The tumors that we remove from children are grown in a dish so that one tumor can be propagated into 100 tumors or more. That tumor can be shared with researchers all over the world, again and again. “
“We already have about 20 tumors here at Dayton Children’s that are part of this data set,” says Dr. Lober. “That is a huge boost because just growing and banking them does nothing until they are in the hands of researchers. This is how you are going to get a cure for brain cancer. A year ago, nothing like this existed, but thanks to Gala, we have not only launched research, but some already published and credited to Gala.”
One of the first children to donate to the biobank is Blake Barr. In July 2016, he started having headaches and double vision. When he came to Dayton Children’s, doctors found he had a very rare tumor the size of a softball in his head that grew in the space of just a few months.
“I will never forget looking at that image – something inside of Blake that should never be inside a child,” says Amberly, his mom. “Donating it to science creates a sense of comfort that it doesn’t stop here. We are gaining understanding to prevent and stop childhood cancer and brain tumors. It creates hope for a whole bunch of families.”
“It feels amazing that I survived something that not many other people can,” says Blake. “It will be even more amazing when we can figure out what’s causing it. Then we can stop it.”