In honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Leo Mascarenhas, MD, MS, head of Oncology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was rewarded by Hyundai Hope On Wheels with a $250,000 Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant for pediatric cancer research during a congratulatory ceremony on September 8th. The grant will support Mascarenhas’ pilot clinical trial investigating the treatment of adolescents and young adults (AYA) with rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS).
RMS is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in childhood, accounting for approximately 50% of soft tissue sarcomas in individuals less than 15 years of age. While children with RMS younger than 15 years of age have a 75 percent chance of being cured, AYA patients have a 40 percent chance or less of survival and the reasons are complex.
“The AYA cancer population has not benefitted as much from discoveries in cancer research compared to the pediatric and older adult age groups as demonstrated by improvements in survival over the last four decades,” says Mascarenhas. “With the support from Hyundai Hope On Wheels, we will be able to develop a better understanding of the biology of rhabomyosarcoma in the AYA age group and to identify molecular targets for agents that could be combined with chemotherapy to increase survival rates and decrease the toxic effects of treatment. Ultimately, our hope is that this trial will lead to improved outcomes for adolescents and young adults battling RMS.”
At the event, CHLA cancer patients and others affected by childhood cancer were able to commemorate their handprint on a canvas and on a Hope On Wheel Scholar Lab Coat, which was presented to Mascarenhas.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is one of the 36 recipients to receive a 2014 Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant and has received $966,000 from Hope On Wheels since 2004.