Newly approved pediatric cancer drug tested in Austin

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new cancer treatment for children. It is just the third pediatric cancer drug approved in two decades and some of the trials took place in Austin.

The drug, Unituxin, treats Neuroblastoma, a type of cancer in the nerve cells. It usually appears in children five years old and younger.

“This may be a major breakthrough in terms of improving long term survival,” said Dr. Sharon Lockhart, a pediatric oncologist in the Clinical Research Director at Dell Children’s Blood and Cancer Center.

The survival rate in children with Neuroblastoma is only about 40 to 50 percent.

“It is what we consider a rare disease, but it is one of the frequent diseases we see here in our center in childhood cancer,” said Lockhart.

Over the past two years, four local children were a part of the clinical trials for Unituxin at Dell Children’s Cancer Center.

“What they determined, at the end of that trial, was that there was a significant survival advantage for those children who received this particular drug,” said Lockhart.

Now children across the country will have access to the treatment right away.

“To have this drug available so quickly, after it was first trialed, is very impressive and it’s really going to make a difference in treating these children,” Lockhart added.

The Dell Children’s Cancer Center was involved in the clinical trials of the new drug because they are part of a national organization called Children’s Oncology Group. As a member, the cancer center is able to offer the latest state-of-the-art treatments that aren’t available everywhere.

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