By Geoff Irvine

Since 2004 the West Pennant Hills Cherrybrook Lions Club has been supporting The Westmead Children’s Hospital Cancer Research Unit [WCHCRU] to improve treatment and survival rates for child cancer patients. During the past 16 years the Club has raised and donated over $200,000 to fund important studies and research projects.

The Club assists the WCHCRU by raising funds to provide the scientific equipment to facilitate each study. Without the equipment, medical research cannot happen. The West Pennant Hills Cherrybrook Club is again assisting the WCHCRU in 2021 even though fund raising opportunities throughout the 2020 pandemic have been extremely difficult.

The challenge to help win the battle towards beating many types of cancers is one that all West Pennant Hills Cherrybrook Lions members accept with passion. This resolve can make a difference to young lives who need the latest therapies and best treatments available.

The Club’s major focus in recent years is to support much needed research into brain cancers. This area has seen important advances over the past decade bringing hope to young children and their families.

The WCHCRU has made encouraging progress in brain cancer studies and their objective now is to develop Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE), a non-invasive medical imaging technique to generate a stiffness map of brain tissue in patients following diagnosis and during treatments.

This year’s project seeks to raise $27,000.

$27,000 will cover the purchase of a Gravitational Brain Transducer ($15,000) pilot scans of 10 patients ($7,000) and a comparative MRE analysis of laboratory mini-brain models ($5,000).

The Westmead CRU scientists are developing an exciting new model for growing “brains in a dish” and combining them with “mini tumours” of patient cells. Direct comparison of MRE maps of the brains in a dish/mini tumour models with patient data will allow fine-tuning of the laboratory model to produce a near-to-exact replica of the brain for testing new therapies.

Once the transducer is installed in the research MRI, and subsequent to obtaining ethics approval, CRU’s scientists will perform the pilot on up to 10 patients at $700 per scan. From the pilot analysis researchers will determine the feasibility of the measurement and obtain the data required to scale up to a larger patient cohort, including expansion to analysis of child patients.

The benefits of this programme will help medical specialists tailor treatments for each child. It will also help to predict sites of cancer recurrence for disease monitoring and develop improved laboratory models to test new medicines.

In view of the fundraising difficulties the Lion’s Club has experienced over the past year, the Club has set-up a Go-Fund-Me website and hopes that through the use of this technology it will attract support from a broad base audience of doners within the online space.

The website can be easily accessed via the Westmead Hospital’s portal at www.bandagedbear.org.au to make donations on-line.

The Club would also be pleased to hear from anyone wishing to be part of this project by contacting its President, Geoff Harrison, at [email protected] or enquires can be made through the Club’s new website at www.wphclions.org.au

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