Doctor receives large research grant
A Beaverton doctor got a big boost for his research efforts recently when The St. Baldrick's Foundation — the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants — awarded a $100,000 "Aiden's Army Fund St. Baldrick's Research Grant" to Dr. Guangheng Li at the Children's Cancer Therapy Development Institute in Beaverton.
Li is combining drugs that already are approved by the Federal Drug Administration for adult cancers in a way intended to stop rhabdomyosarcoma tumor cells from creating new tumors elsewhere in the body. Li aims to stop the tumor cells from growing, while also trying to convert what is left to non-cancerous cells, similar to what is found in normal muscle.
The Children's Cancer Therapy Development Institute is a non-profit organization focused on the pre-clinical gap in childhood cancer research. Its mission is to make all childhood cancers universally survivable by delivering new treatments to clinical trials through scientific discovery.
The research team is led by Scientific Director Dr. Charles Keller, who follows in the footsteps of his mentor, 2007 Nobel laureate Mario Capecchi. The laboratory is based on the premise of a non-profit multi-disciplinary biotech.
The grant is made possible by St. Baldrick's Hero Fund, which was created in honor of Aiden Binkley, from Bellerose Village, N.Y. When Aiden was 8, he was diagnosed with stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma. A tumor was found in his pelvis and the cancer had metastasized to his lungs. Aiden said he believed he got cancer so he could grow up to find a cure for it. Although he lost his battle to cancer, Aiden's story inspired those who attend the St. Baldrick's head-shaving funderaisers annually, which has raised more than $1.7 million to date. Since 2010, the Hero Fund has raised $615,875 to support research to find cures and better treatments for children with cancer.
"It was Aiden's belief that he got cancer in order to cure cancer. Aiden's Army is hoping to make that belief a reality by supporting researchers like Dr. Li," Lisa Binkley, Aiden's mother, said. "We are optimistic that someday, through St. Baldrick's, Aiden's Army will see an end to rhabdomyosarcoma."