Every year approximately ten children are diagnosed with brainstem cancer. These children almost all pass away after a period of illness of averagely nine months. Brainstem cancer is also called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). A DIPG is a tumor which is completely woven into the brain tissue in an area called the pontine. In this brain area, vital functions, such as breathing and heartbeat, are regulated. Surgical removal is therefore impossible. The current treatment exists of radiotherapy to prolong the life expectancy. However, a cure is not available.
Dr. Hulleman and Meel study the biological mechanisms of DIPG. What happens in the cells that cause a tumor to develop in the brain stem? By analyzing the differences in protein expression, they discovered the influence of a specific protein on the development of a tumor. This discovery is the starting point of the follow-up study that is focused on testing a new combination of medication to treat DIPG. This study is financially supported by the Semmy Foundation. ‘We are honored that the collaboration with the Semmy Foundation will continue. Together we strive to develop a treatment for children with a pontine glioma’, says dr. Hulleman.
John Emmerik and Nicole van Dijk-Bakker established the Semmy Foundation in 2007, after their son Semmy passed away as a consequence of brainstem cancer. Since then the foundation is committed to stimulate research in order to increase the survival chances of children with this disease. ‘We are enthusiastic that, after years of collaboration with the VUmc in Amsterdam, we now officially start a collaboration with the Princess Máxima Center. We are looking forward to the future results of this research project’, says Emmerik. Van Dijk-Bakker adds: ‘We are grateful that we can continue to sponsor the research into DIPG – starting with this specific project of dr. Hulleman and Meel, thanks to all our donors.’
This is the first contractual collaboration between the Semmy Foundation and the Princess Máxima Center. ‘We have been working together for a while now. This new form is a good start for a collaboration which we wish to expand in the future’, says Laurens van der Flier, managing director Research of the Princess Máxima Center.