Funded Projects To Date

Funded Projects To Date

$8.375 Million Committed

The Team Jack Foundation is focused on raising money for pediatric brain cancer research.  Because of your support, and the support of all of the incredible donors from all across the country, the Team Jack Foundation has committed $8,375,000 to pediatric brain cancer research since its inception.  This includes research currently ongoing, as well as new projects that have been developed for investment by the Foundation. 

Team Jack Research Aims Include 5 Key Areas: 

  1. Identifying new genetic mutations that are causing brain tumors
  2. Trying to enable the drugs to get through the blood-brain barrier
  3. Clinical trials offering new treatments to kids with brain tumors
  4. Evaluating whether new brain-penetrant molecules are effective in treatment of brain tumors
  5. Helping build and support a pediatric brain tumor program in Nebraska

Project 1: Drug Efficacy, Genetic Mutation Identification

Project 1: Drug Efficacy, Genetic Mutation Identification
Project 1: Drug Efficacy, Genetic Mutation Identification

The Team Jack Legacy Fund by CureSearch (the predecessor to the Team Jack Foundation) awarded a $275,000 research grant to the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School to help fund translational and innovative pediatric brain cancer research in January of 2013.  This research project is analyzing the efficacy of cancer drug delivery to a tumor site so as to determine whether or not efficacy is being achieved.  This project will analyze the molecular structure of existing cancer medications and re-engineer them so that they can get past the blood-brain barrier and to the tumor site for treatment efficacy. Other aspects of the project include the process of identifying other genetic mutations ("oncogenes") in pediatric brain tumors to determine what causes them to grow.  After identifying any new genetic mutations, the project will turn its focus to working towards chemically engineering a "smart drug."

Project completed:  see results here.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Charles Stiles, PhD, Co-Chair, Department of Cancer of Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Project 2: Medulloblastoma Acceleration Project

Project 2: Medulloblastoma Acceleration Project
Project 2: Medulloblastoma Acceleration Project

In 2014, with a $25,000 grant to the University of California, San Francisco, the Team Jack Foundation, in conjunction with CureSearch, served as a partial sponsor on a very exciting research project relating to a specific type of pediatric brain cancer known as Medulloblastoma.  Led by William Weiss, MD, PhD at the University of California, San Francisco, this grant was awarded to investigate their hypothesis that drugs that reprogram the epigenome can improve outcomes for children with high-risk medulloblastoma.  Dr. Weiss and his team are working to develop new treatments for high-risk medulloblastoma by identifying mutations in epigenetic regulators, and using drugs that target these mutations.  

Learn project update information here.

Principal Investigator: William Weiss, MD, PhD at the University of California, San Francisco

Project 3: Phase I/II Study of MEK162

Project 3: Phase I/II Study of MEK162
Project 3: Phase I/II Study of MEK162

In October 2013, Team Jack made a $300,000 commitment to Children's Hospital Los Angeles/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to help launch a pediatric brain tumor clinical trial that had its beginnings in 2014.   This is a Phase I/II study of MEK162 for children with progressive or recurrent brain tumors.  This clinical trial will allow for a new therapy for children. The main purpose of the phase I study is to determine the most effective dosage of the drug for children and adolescents with tumors that have recurred despite standard chemotherapy treatment, and to identify the most common side effects.  Phase 1 completed in June 2017: Learn More Here.  Phase II is ongoing.

February 2019 Update:

This study originally had an estimate of 75 patients and now the aim is for over 100 patients and the trial has been extended because of a positive response. While the original trial is taking place at Children's Hospital, other participating treatment sites include: top children’s hospitals in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Washington DC, New York and Massachusetts

Project 4: TAK580 Clinical Trial

Project 4: TAK580 Clinical Trial
Project 4: TAK580 Clinical Trial

The Team Jack Foundation committed $300,000 to the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium Grant via Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for the TAK580 clinical trial. Because of their location, low-grade gliomas generally cannot be removed completely via surgery, and there are few existing therapeutic options that target the mutations present in these tumors. The Dana-Farber team discovered that the drug TAK-580 targets the KIAA1549-BRAF mutation, found in most low-grade gliomas, indicating that the therapy might work against tumors harboring these alterations. Intriguingly, TAK-580 might also attack other abnormalities within the tumor, meaning it could even work against tumors without either the V600E or KIAA1549-BRAF mutation. The clinical trial will study the drug’s efficacy and leverage a novel blood test to detect tumor cell DNA, allowing the team to profile tumors for future targeted therapies and monitor response without the need for surgery, transforming care.

February 2019 Update: 

Phase 1 recently finished, and phase 2 is starting soon in 18 different consortium sites across the United States, and potentially expanding internationally to Switzerland. There is much excitement about this clinical trial and there is currently a wait list to participate.  There are currently 9 patients enrolled with a maximum enrollment of 120 patients. The first 4 additional sites to open will be University of California San Francisco (UCSF), St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Principal Investigator: Karen D. Wright, MD, MS

Project 5: Dana- Farber Cancer Institute: Clinical Trials with Targeted Agents

Project 5: Dana- Farber Cancer Institute: Clinical Trials with Targeted Agents
Project 5: Dana- Farber Cancer Institute: Clinical Trials with Targeted Agents

Clinical Trials with Targeted Agents (additional contributions to previously committed trials: MEK162 & TAK580):  The Team Jack Foundation committed $500,000 to this project in December 2017.  The support would ensure the rapid completion of accrual to both, MEK162 and TAK580, protocols, as well as support for the critical analysis of tumor material generated by these trials.  This includes not just the standard mutation analysis of the tumor material, but also the identification of secondary pathways of tumor activation and analysis of imaging correlates of tumor response.  Finally, due to the release of tumor cell DNA into the blood and possibly cerebrospinal fluid, urine and saliva, termed cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), researchers have the possibility of detecting cell-free DNA in these fluids in a non-invasive way to diagnose and profile these tumors for the application of future targeted therapies or monitoring of response, giving them the ability to transform the care of these children.

Principal Investigator: Karen D. Wright, MD, MS

This study originally had an estimate of 75 patients and now the aim is for over 100 patients and the trial has been extended because of a positive response. While the original trial is taking place at Children's Hospital, other participating treatment sites include: top children’s hospitals in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Washington DC, New York and Massachusetts.

TAK-580 February 2019 Update: 

Phase 1 recently finished, and phase 2 is starting soon in 18 different consortium sites across the United States, and potentially expanding internationally to Switzerland. There is much excitement about this clinical trial and there is currently a wait list to participate.  There are currently 9 patients enrolled with a maximum enrollment of 120 patients. The first 4 additional sites to open will be University of California San Francisco (UCSF), St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

TAK-580 December 2019 Update: 

The trial has been amended and will likely open to accrual in 2020 and will run through the Pacific Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC) comprised of 18 participating U.S. Sites. It is with Team Jack support the trial will open to participating sites this year. The drug continues to show evidence of response in patients trated during the Phase 1. There is a waitlist for enrollment across five of the sites where the protocol has already been approved by their institutional review boards (Children's National in Washington D.C., St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in TN, Washington University Hospital in MO, UCSF in CA and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles in CA). The drug is targeted for the most common mutation in pediatric low-grade glioma, that of BRAF fusion duplication, and offers an option to patients with any BRAF mutated tumor who have had progressive growth after MEK inhibitors or need a new therapy. 

The TAK-580 remains the focus of project 1 for the prestigious SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) grant which was reinstated this past year. Dr. Wright's collaborator on project 1 for the SPORE, Dr. Michael Eck, recently published his work outlining the mechanism of action of type II inhibitors, including TAK-580 (Park E, Rawson S, Li K, et al. Architecture of autoinhibited and active BRAF-MEK1-14-3-3 complexes. Nature. 2019; 575: 545-550).

MEK-182 December 2019 Update: 

Patients treated with MEK-162 continue to demonstrate a positive response. The trial has closed except for two strata (that of the Neurofibromatosis type 1 [NF1] and the target validation cohorts). The hope is to have the data for non-NF1 patients with LGG published in the near future.

 

Project 6: Team Jack Foundation - University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Pediatric Brain Tumor Program

Project 6: Team Jack Foundation - University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Pediatric Brain Tumor Program
Project 6: Team Jack Foundation - University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Pediatric Brain Tumor Program

The Team Jack Foundation, in partnership Nebraska State Legislature, has committed to a $3 million project for the development of a pediatric brain tumor program at UNMC’s Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.  Board Chair of the Team Jack Foundation, Andrew Hoffman, testified for LB 110, a legislative bill to appropriate funds for pediatric cancer specialists, at the Nebraska State Legislature's Appropriations Committee Hearing at the 2015 legislative session.  Included in the appropriation are funds to support two additional pediatric cancer specialists.  The funds appropriated by the legislation will be utilized to leverage additional private funding.  The Team Jack Foundation has committed to funding $1.5 million over six years to match these funds. Plans are currently underway in the development of this ground breaking program.  

Project Update: In the summer of 2018, Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, D.O., MSPH, Assistant Professor, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, was hired at UNMC/Children's Hospital. In addition to his hiring, a comprehensive neuro-oncology team has been assembled consisting of neuro-surgery, neurology, social work and palliative care. For more on the Pediatric Brain Cancer Program at UNMC's Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center click here.

About UNMC Project Video

For more information on the Nebraska Pediatric Brain Tumor Program, click here.

Project 7: Team Jack Foundation - UNMC/Children's Hospital Omaha - Pediatric Brain Tumor Initiative

Project 7: Team Jack Foundation - UNMC/Children's Hospital Omaha - Pediatric Brain Tumor Initiative
Project 7: Team Jack Foundation - UNMC/Children's Hospital Omaha - Pediatric Brain Tumor Initiative

The Team Jack Foundation has pledged a $5,000,000 commitment to fund the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha and Children's Hospital Omaha. This program is called the Power5 Pediatric Brain Tumor Initiative and will fund four areas: laboratory research, clinical research, education and pain management in cancer research. 

About Power5 Video

For more information on the Nebraska Pediatric Brain Tumor Program, click here.

March 2020 POWER5 Project Update

The Team Jack Foundation approved the first three grants within the Power5 program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. One grant was within the Clinical and/or Laboratory Research arm of the Power5 program and the other two grants fell within the Pain Management arm of the program. 

Laboratory & Clinical Research:

  • Chemosensitization on non-SHH/WNT medulloblastoma is regulated by miR-1253 
    The hypothesis is that miR-1253 functions as a tumor suppressor gene in medulloblastoma by exerting its anti-neoplastic effects through chemosensitization by influencing the expression of the ABC drug transporter family. These studies will advance our limited knowledge of the pathopysiology of non-SHH/WNT medulloblastoma, dissect the tumor suppressive properties of miR-1253, and generate a justifiable movement towards developing miR-based therapeutics as adjunctive treatments for non-SHH/WNT medulloblastoma. The uncommon yet deadly nature of this cancer type coupled with the potential to develop novel, less toxic,targeted therapeutics make this proposal particularly well-suited to the project priorities of the Team Jack Foundation.
    Principal Investigator: Sidharth Mahapatra, MD, PhD |  $330,000 commitment over three years

Pain Management in Cancer:

  • Rehabilitating & Healing Youth Throuh Music Therapy (RHYTHM) 
    The objective of the RHYTHYM program is to integrate music therapy into pediatric care to positively impact motor fundtion, coordination, motivation, and pain burden while fostering self-expression for children and positive memory-making for families. 
    Principal Investigator: Meaghann Weaver, MD | $49,000 commitment for one year

  • Pilot Study Using Pharmacogenomic Screening to Optimize Pain Medications in Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Patients
    Pharmacogenetic screening can improve response to pain medications for pediatric patients with cancer. The specific aims of the projects are to determine the impact of pharmacogenomic screening on the use and response to pain medications for pediatric neuro-oncology patients and to determine the impact of pharmacogenomic screening on non-analgesic medications used in pediatric neuro-oncology patients.
    Principal Investigator: Chris Shaffer, PharmD | $21,000 commitment for one year

Project 8: Memorial Sloan Kettering - DIPG Research Project

Project 8: Memorial Sloan Kettering - DIPG Research Project
Project 8: Memorial Sloan Kettering - DIPG Research Project

The Team Jack Foundation was proud to announce at the 6th Annual Team Jack Gala in February 2019 a $150,000 commitment to fund a research project focused on Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPG) at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. DIPG is the deadliest form of pediatric brain cancer with a 0% survival rate five years after diagnosis. Currently, there is no known treatment specifically for DIPG.  Dr. Phillips' lab in recent years has created a treatment that works to reverse tumor cells back into normal cells, but has yet to discover a way to get the treatment into the tumor because of the blood brain barrier. This project will focus on a new drug-delivery method through the blood brain barrier. If successful, this method would lead to new treatments for kids with DIPG and possibly other tumor types as well. Dr. Richard Phillips is the pricipal investigator and explains the project in a video, just click the button below! 

Dr. Phillips Video


Project Progress as of January 2020

  • Large scale synthesis of brain penetrant lead compound TDI-6118 has been completed and they will now initiate in vivo pharmacodynamic experiments
  • Established an additional, complementary approach for delivery to the brain, using encapsulation of inhibitors in a nanoparticle. 

To learn more about Dr. Richard Phillips and his work, click here

Project 9: DIPG Research Project - Boston, Orange County, Chicago

Project 9: DIPG Research Project - Boston, Orange County, Chicago
Project 9: DIPG Research Project - Boston, Orange County, Chicago

In March of 2020, the Team Jack Foundation announced a three-year commitment to fund a Phase 1 Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) research project at Children's Hospital Orange County, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. DIPG is the deadliest form of pediatric brain cancer with a 0% survival rate five years after diagnosis. Currently, there is no known treatment specifically for DIPG. This study is titled Heat Shock Protein (HSP) Neo-Antigen Vaccine Plus Checkpoint Blockade for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

The hypothesis of this study is that off-the-shelf heat shock protein (HSP) vaccines containing peptides specific for neo-antigen profiles found in DIPG in combination with checkpoint blockade will be safe and tolerable. Investigators also hypothesize that treatment with this vaccine will result in a targeted immune response to the tumor and provide therapeutic benefit.

The Team Jack funding commitment was the final piece needed to get this project off the ground. Other funders include: Elerding Family Foundation $100,000, We Love Connie Foundation $225,000, RDL Foundation $300,000, for a total of $625,000.

Lead Investigators:
Ashley S. Plant, MD (Principal Investigor), Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Susan Chi, MD (Co-Principal Investigator), Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Additional Insights

Additional Insights
Additional Insights

The Team Jack Foundation is committed to helping find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. Team Jack will work closely with its scientific advisory board and scientific advisory.

Research is needed to improve drug delivery methods, as well as identifying other possible genetic abnormalities in pediatric brain cancer that can be treated with chemically engineered "smart drugs."

The Team Jack Foundation is committed to helping defeat the No. 1 cancer cause of death in children.  

The Team Jack Foundation invites all pediatric brain tumor researchers to inquire about research grants for pediatric brain cancer research.  Other Foundations supporting pediatric brain cancer research are encouraged to share their research investment opportunities with Team Jack so as to identify possible collaborative opportunities.

Click here for more information on Team Jack Foundation sponsored grants.