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New Jersey
SOHN Conference Foundation Grant Supports Groundbreaking Neuroblastoma Clinical Trial At Hackensack University Medical Center
Story Number is : 031217124
The Sohn Conference Foundation

The Sohn Conference Foundation today announced the expansion of a Phase 2 cutting-edge pediatric clinical trial from the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC) to the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center (HackensackUMC) in Hackensack, NJ. With the goal of preventing relapse in children with neuroblastoma in remission using a new, oral investigational drug, difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), which is used to treat African sleeping sickness. HackensackUMC will join the trial led by the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, which is demonstrating unprecedented rates of relapse prevention.

“We have seen a dramatic decrease in relapse in our high risk neuroblastoma patients,” said Dr. Giselle Sholler, Chair of the NMTRC and Director of Pediatric Oncology Research at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “We believe that by using DFMO to target an important cancer stem cell pathway to ‘turn cells off,’ we may prevent children from relapsing. Cancer cells have pathways that drive the cancer to grow and DFMO targets a specific pathway to turn these cells off.”

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that typically manifests when children are very young, with the average age at diagnosis being 18 months. Neuroblastoma relapses are particularly devastating – more than 35 percent of patients with neuroblastoma will relapse, at which point the survival rate is less than 10 percent.

The HackensackUMC trial, which is being managed by Derek Hanson, M.D., pediatric neuro-oncologist, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at HackensackUMC aims to prevent relapse of neuroblastoma through a twice-daily regimen of DFMO.

“As part of our commitment to support initiatives to cure and treat pediatric cancer, we seek to back the most innovative projects that can make a huge impact on children’s health,” said Douglas Hirsch, Co-Chair of the Sohn Conference Foundation. “Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial tumor in children, and Dr. Hanson’s trial is an encouraging venture towards preventing the relapse of this high-risk disease.”

“We are incredibly thankful for the support of the Sohn Conference Foundation which allows our research to reach NJ children,” said Dr. Hanson. “At the Children’s Cancer Institute at HackensackUMC, we are committed to finding the most cutting-edge treatments for children battling cancer and empower them with every option to fight back. We are encouraged by the trial’s promising initial results at other sites, and are hopeful this will make a difference in the lives of families in New Jersey facing this difficult childhood cancer.”

With this grant from the Sohn Conference Foundation, HackensackUMC becomes the first research site in the state to study DFMO as a potential treatment to prevent the relapse of neuroblastoma in children, joining 26 other research sites throughout the country.

Since its inception in 1995, the Sohn Conference Foundation has raised more than $75 million through its world-renowned Sohn Investment Conferences to fund research and treatment in the fight against pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases. More information on the Sohn Conference Foundation can be found at

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