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CNCF Awards $5,000 Grant to University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital

Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation Awards $5,000 Grant
to University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital

Fund to pay for parking, lunch  for families of kids in advanced MIBG treatment therapy

For families who travel to the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital to access an advanced cancer therapy, one less worry is a blessing. Over the next year, they will have two fewer: The Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (CNCF) will pick up the cost of food and parking for families whose children are receiving radioactive MIBG therapy.

CNCF has awarded a $5,000 grant to Comer earmarked exclusively for families in the MIBG therapy room on the 6th floor. MIBG (meta-iodobenzylguanidine) therapy targets cancer cells by delivering a radiative isotope directly to neuroblastoma cells. Due to the high radiation levels, the treatment is performed in a lead-lined room and strict protocols must be followed, including limited contact with the patient, according to Dr. Susan Cohn, a leading authority on neuroblastoma and Acting Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Section Chief  at Comer.

“We reserve the room right next door to the MIBG room for the parents. When the parents are not in the MIBG room with their child, they can communicate by walkie-talkies and FaceTime.  The parents are also able to see their children on a TV monitor outside the room.” Dr. Cohn said. “The patients can remain radioactive for several days after the intravenous infusion of radio-labeled MIBG, and we are only able to treat one patient each week.”  

Comer is the only hospital in Illinois that offers this dynamic therapy, which has been shown to reduce tumor size in approximately 30 percent of relapse patients. The therapy has been around 20 years, but the treatment is available in only a limited number of medical centers. Traveling and extended hospital stays are common hurdles for families in treatment. Dr. Cohn says Comer has treated MIBG patients from the Chicago area, nearby states, and other countries, such as Israel.

“CNCF is committed to families around the world fighting this terrible disease,” said Pat Tallungan, president and co-founder of CNCF, and mother to neuroblastoma victim Nicholas, who died at age 10. “Parking and food expenses add up. Neuroblastoma affects families’ finances. We want to make their lives easier whenever and wherever we can.”

Because this therapy has been shown to be active in the setting of relapsed neuroblastoma, Dr. Cohn said Comer recently started using MIBG therapy to treat newly diagnosed patients as part of a clinical trial to improve survival rates. Neuroblastoma is a solid-tumor cancer that affects mostly young children. The average age at diagnosis is 2, and about 700 patients are diagnosed with neuroblastoma in North America every year. Neuroblastoma has a higher incidence rate in infants than leukemia. The survival rate for patients with high-risk, aggressive forms of the disease is 50 percent.

Construction of Comer’s MIBG room was completed in April 2014.

About the University of Chicago Medicine
The University of Chicago Medicine and its Comer Children's Hospital rank among the best in the country, most notably for cancer treatment, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of the nation's hospitals. The University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine has been named one of the Top 10 medical schools in the nation, by U.S. News' "Best Graduate Schools" survey. University of Chicago physician-scientists performed the first organ transplant and the first bone marrow transplant in animal models, the first successful living-donor liver transplant, the first hormone therapy for cancer and the first successful application of cancer chemotherapy. Its researchers discovered REM sleep and were the first to describe several of the sleep stages. Twelve of the Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with the University of Chicago Medicine.

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About CNCF
Based in Bloomingdale, IL, CNCF is one of the oldest and largest organizations in the U.S. dedicated solely to neuroblastoma awareness, education and research. Founded in 2000 by parents of neuroblastoma victims, CNCF has donated more than $2 million to neuroblastoma research and clinical trials. For more information, visit @cncfhope

Media contact: Shawn Taylor | | 312-371-6260.