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September 18, 2019
4 min read
What is Project:EveryChild?

Project:EveryChild is an ambitious initiative to find better cures for every type of childhood cancer, no matter how rare. And it is only possible because of the combined efforts of researchers, families of children with cancer, and you.

There are about 14,000 new cases of childhood cancer each year in the United States, and the most common – acute lymphoblastic leukemia – accounts for about 3,500 of those. But there are some types of cancer that are diagnosed in fewer than 100 children a year. The rarer the disease, the more challenging it is for researchers to make progress.

No matter how common or rare, each child deserves the best chance at a cure. That’s where Project:EveryChild comes in.

The Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the world’s largest organization devoted to childhood and adolescent cancer research, is partnering with families of children with cancer through Project:EveryChild to discover the cause of all childhood cancers.

Project:EveryChild is the cornerstone of the COG’s precision medicine research platform for children with newly diagnosed cancer. Current and future therapy for childhood cancers will be increasingly based upon using this resource to discover how best to treat each child to target the cancer while giving only as much therapy as is needed, reducing long-term effects of treatment for survivors.

“As a founding partner and the largest single contributor to the COG and Project:EveryChild, St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s support has already been extremely impactful on multiple levels,” says Peter C. Adamson, M.D., Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group.

Who Can Participate?

The family of any child diagnosed with cancer in the United States may choose to be a part of this study, designed to capture the biology and outcome of every child diagnosed with cancer.  The opportunity is also open to families in countries where the COG has affiliations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other global partner institutions. Patients may participate in Project:EveryChild whether or not they are also receiving treatment through a clinical trial.

How Does Project:EveryChild Work?

First, for those participating, researchers take extra tissue whenever the child must undergo a diagnostic procedure, and that tissue is stored in the COG’s biorepository. These biospecimens include tumor tissue, host tissue and, when feasible, parental DNA. This becomes part of the fundamental platform for discovery.

When the first whole human genome was sequenced in 2001, it cost $100,000,000.  Today the cost is closer to $1,000.  This new era of genomics gives scientists powerful tools that will help find the basis of all childhood cancers.

Second, along with these biospecimens, Project:EveryChild collects key information about the child, their cancer, treatment and outcomes. This data is maintained securely in the COG’s data center, so that scientists can link laboratory findings to the data on patient outcomes.

The key to discovery is this connection between the biospecimens and the data about each patient’s treatment and its effectiveness.

For children with the more common types of childhood cancer, Project:EveryChild will promote advances through the study of biospecimens both from diagnosis and at relapse (when it occurs), whether or not the child was treated on a clinical trial.  And for those with ultra-rare childhood cancers, it will give scientists, for the first time, enough information on the biology and treatment outcomes to accelerate progress. 

Progress to Date

Since Project:EveryChild launched in 2015, nearly 20,000 patients have participated, at 224 medical institutions that are members of the COG, and nearly 100,000 biospecimens had been collected by June 30, 2019. Given the rarity of some types and sub-types of childhood cancer, this is an invaluable resource for researchers trying to learn how these cancers work.

Most of the funding for Project:EveryChild is from philanthropic sources, with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation being the leading supporter.  “Government funding for pediatric cancer research is limited, and almost always carries a degree of uncertainty from year to year,” continued Dr. Adamson, the COG chair. “St. Baldrick’s has been our most vital philanthropic partner, and, quite simply, this work would not have been possible without the added support of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.” As the leading non-government funder of all the COG’s work, St. Baldrick’s is committed to helping fund projects like Project:EveryChild, with the goal that, together, we can #DFYchildhoodCancers.

Help fund initiatives such as Project: EveryChild with a donation to St. Baldrick’s and #DFYchildhoodCancers today.