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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Curing childhood cancer is the quest of Braden`s Hope for Childhood Cancer, a local organization started by a local mom in honor of her son`s long battle with neuroblastoma.

Deliece Hofen started the organization knowing treatment for pediatric cancer had to change, and now it`s giving the third grant worth $1 million to a local researcher who is making major strides in the fight against pediatric cancer.

This year`s winner of the $1 million grant is Dr. Midhat Farooqi, the director of molecular oncology at Children`s Mercy.

Doctor Farooqi is doing genetic sequencing, to improve targeted immune-based treatment of solid tumors for pediatric patients.

“We are sequencing them because in preliminary trials some patients responded to this therapy and other patients did not,”  Dr. Farooqi said.  “It worked really well for about half of them but for the other half- it helped slow the disease for half of them, but it didn`t work well for the other group.”

“Finding what is basically the genetic reason potentially for why someone does respond or doesn`t respond,” Dr. Farooqi said.

So by finding what may have made a difference genetically for each patient in how the therapy worked- the hope is the treatment can be made more effective for the patients- while minimizing the effects on healthy cells.

“It is precision medicine- targeting individual changes in a patient- in a patient`s tumor, taking advantage of those to try and give therapy that selectively kills tumor cells and doesn`t affect the rest of the cells in the body,” Dr. Farooqi explained.  “If you can target a therapy specifically to the tumor cells that affects only the tumor cells you can potentially spare the rest of the body.”

And with a $1 million grant, a rarity in the world of pediatric cancer research, Dr. Farooqi is confident his research will garner useful information in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Dr. Farooqi is working with other medical centers in the country and by pooling resources- he knows even more information can be gathered and targeted medicine will make advances based on the research he`s able to do with this grant- and it all started here in Kansas City.