Innovative new clinical trial to give hope to Australian kids with deadly brain cancer


The Robert Connor Dawes (RCD) Foundation is committing $250,000 to co-fund the NICHE-HGG trial, that will give Australian children with high-grade glioma (HGG) access to a promising new treatment.

In Australia brain cancer kills more children than any other disease with high-grade glioma being particularly fatal. According to the Australian Study Chair Dr Nick Gottardo, “children diagnosed with high grade gliomas, which are very aggressive brain cancers, have dismal survival rates.” 

This revolutionary new trial aims to harness the patient’s own immune system to target and eliminate tumour cells (called immunotherapy) and has emerged as an effective treatment for some previously incurable adult cancers, such as melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. Recent research has shown that use of immunotherapy agents, known as checkpoint inhibitors, before surgery resection can “prime” the patient’s immune response.

“The immunotherapy drugs are given in a novel way before surgical resection of the brain cancer to prime the body’s immune response against the cancer cells, in order to trigger a stronger anti-cancer effect when the drugs are given again after the brain cancer has been resected”. 

“It is hoped that this strategy will improve survival for these dreadful brain cancers,” Dr Gattardo said.  

The RCD Foundation is committing a total of $1.25 million over five years to clinical trials, with funds going towards the Australian Brain Cancer Mission (ABCM) and The Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) to help accelerate and participate in global trials such as NICHE-HGG. 

“We feel very positive about the advancement of immunotherapy as a treatment for children with brain cancer and are pleased that we can fund this important new trial,” RCD Foundation CEO and Founder, Liz Dawes said. 

“We are also happy to be supporting an innovative international collaboration. We remain steadfast in our aim to improve the odds for young people with brain cancer and believe this trial is an important step towards accomplishing this goal.”

The NICHE-HGG trial has been developed by international leaders in paediatric trial research. Participation in this trial will enable immediate access to a new and promising treatment strategy desperately needed for Australian and New Zealand children diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer. 

The trial will be Australia’s first collaboration with the newly established global Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC) and will greatly increase Australia’s international collaborations and give greater access to overseas clinical trials

The NICHE-HGG trial will also be funded by Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and Love for Lachie allowing the trial sponsor – ANZCHOG, to open this trial at nine children’s cancer centres throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Nick Gottardo


Where did the name come from?

NICHE-HGG Trial: A randomised pilot trial of Neoadjuvant checkpoint Inhibition followed by Combination adjuvant checkpoint inHibition in childrEn and young adults with recurrent or progressive High Grade Glioma. 


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