What You Fund
Kids Walk for MSK Kids is committed to beating pediatric cancers.
Over $8 Million Raised
Kids Walk for MSK Kids has raised more than $8 million since 2001, with more than $5 million raised in the past five years. Every single dollar goes directly to MSK Kids, the pediatric program at Memorial Sloan Kettering — funding pediatric cancer research, technologies, and clinical trials. This would not be possible without our dedicated participants and generous donors. Funding from the Kids Walk for MSK Kids community gives doctors and scientists the resources they need to turn new and promising research findings into better treatment options for kids with cancer at MSK and around the world.
Every Dollar Funds Hope
Only 4-5% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is dedicated to researching pediatric cancers. That’s where the Kids Walk for MSK Kids community comes in! Together, patients, survivors, families, friends, and students raise money for MSK Kids that leads to life-changing treatments — because kids can’t afford to wait.
Doctors and researchers at MSK Kids, the pediatric program at Memorial Sloan Kettering, are united by a shared goal: to improve outcomes for children, teens, and young adults while decreasing the long-term side effects from treatment. The breakthroughs and cures that every family hopes for are made possible by the game-changing research at MSK Kids. With the money raised through Kids Walk for MSK Kids, that future becomes more achievable each year.
Making an Impact Since 2001
Since Kids Walk for MSK Kids began in 2001, the number of children who survive cancer in the United States has increased by over 20%. Today, 84% of children with cancer will be cured because of breakthrough clinical trials and advances in treatment — many of them made at MSK Kids.
For 20 years, the Kids Walk for MSK Kids community of participants and donors has been a powerful part of making this progress possible. The $8 million we’ve raised together for pediatric cancer research has helped speed up the discoveries made at MSK Kids — bringing new and better treatment options to children, teens, and young adults around the world.
Here are some of the promising research and initiatives that received funding in 2020 from Kids Walk for MSK Kids:
What is Precision Medicine? DNA sequencing has revolutionized the future of cancer care, giving doctors the power to diagnose and treat patients with more precision than ever before. Researchers at MSK Kids are using this precision medicine approach to unlock the secrets of cancer and learn why some kids develop the disease in the first place. By looking at tumors using DNA sequencing, researchers can pinpoint the genetic mutations that caused the cancer. Then, doctors can target those mutations with the right drugs and avoid harming healthy cells. This precision approach means kids will receive more effective treatments and experience with fewer side effects—and that’s the goal!
How are we making a difference? MSK Kids treats more children, teens, and young adults with cancer than any other hospital in the US, and its researchers are now offering to sequence the genomes of every one of them through the Pediatric Translational Medicine Program. Using MSK-IMPACT—a technology invented at MSK that can search a patient’s genes and detect 468 genetic mutations (changes to the DNA) that are known to play a role in cancer, the program promises to deliver targeted therapies to more kids battling cancer than ever before. Kids Walk for MSK Kids funding gives doctors the tools they need to search through all of those genes, find the cancer-causing mutations, and match its youngest patients with the most effective treatments possible.
What’s the latest? MSK Kids is on a promising path to sequencing the whole genome—all 22,000+ genes in the human body of every patient. Even more exciting—we’re continuing to expedite the sequencing process. In April 2018, it took 10 to 12 weeks to get results from genomic testing. Today this analysis can be done in 3 weeks, but we’re aiming to further reduce that timeline to less than a week. This will give us a remarkable opportunity to make sure children, teens, and young adults being treated at MSK Kids are being given the most effective therapies even faster, improving their odds of beating this disease. This precision medicine approach will likely benefit all patients with cancer—not just kids, but adults too.
As DNA sequencing becomes a routine part of how a child’s disease is diagnosed and treated at MSK Kids, our experts are beginning to treat cancer by matching drugs to patients through targeting drivers of their specific disease. To bring this individualized care to the next level, it’s our dream to open the Center for Pediatric Precision Medicine and Drug Development—a collaborative hub for developing new ways to fight pediatric cancers using precision medicine.
Researchers will be able to use genetic information to guide treatment decisions and deliver targeted and more effective drug therapies to children, teens, and young adults. Through the continued support and generosity of the Kids Walk for MSK Kids community, we’ll be able to make that dream a reality one day.
The MSK Kids team isn’t stopping there. The goal is to sequence pediatric cancer patients who could benefit, regardless of where they receive treatment. MSK Kids is starting to offer MSK-IMPACT to children with cancer around the world. This gives new hope to families who cannot travel to MSK Kids for treatment, as well as provide our doctors and researchers with important data that they can use to identify more genetic targets for better treatments and cures.
What is Neuroblastoma? Neuroblastoma is a nerve-tissue cancer that is most common in young children. Often, neuroblastoma spreads throughout the body. If it spreads to the brain this has historically been very hard to treat.
How are we making a difference? MSK Kids treats more kids with neuroblastoma than any other hospital in the world—and researchers are making huge strides in treating this disease. MSK Kids has developed new treatments to address the worst forms of neuroblastoma, specifically where disease has spread to the brain. These new therapies have improved the survival rate from below 5% up to nearly 50%.
What’s the latest? Funding from Kids Walk for MSK Kids helped researchers at MSK Kids create and test a new drug called omburtamab that was recently granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA. The treatment was so effective for some kids who otherwise had no chance of survival that the FDA prioritized its approval and made it available as soon as possible to patients around the world. In 2018, another drug, naxitamab, was also granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA. These two important new drugs provide real hope—and possibly even a cure—to kids with advanced neuroblastoma.
What is Leukemia? Leukemia is the most common type of pediatric cancer. It begins in the blood, making white blood cells—which normally help your body fight infection—grow out of control and change into cancer cells.
How are we making a difference? Doctors and researchers at MSK Kids pioneered new chemotherapy treatments that have dramatically increased long-term survival for kids and young adults with leukemia.
What’s the latest? Kids Walk for MSK Kids continues to fund two promising clinical trials that aim to keep chemotherapy working for the long-term. When chemotherapy stops working, kids may need a bone marrow transplant to replace cancer blood cells with healthy ones. Kids Walk for MSK Kids is supporting efforts to improve how MSK Kids carries out those bone marrow transplants for kids.
Another approach to treating leukemia is using CAR T cells—a recently FDA-approved immunotherapy approach that uses a patient’s own infection-fighting T cells against cancer. First, doctors remove the patient’s T cells, then insert new DNA into the cells and put them back into the patient as CAR T cells. The CAR T cells can target and attack cancer and are currently used to treat a form of childhood leukemia at MSK Kids. CAR T is especially important for kids because it’s a very powerful treatment, offering patients hope for a cure when chemotherapy isn’t working.
Pediatric Fast Track
What is Pediatric Fast Track? This MSK Kids program is designed to speed up the clinical trial process and make life-changing treatment options accessible to kids with cancer as soon as possible. Funding from Kids Walk for MSK Kids allows MSK Kids to create and extend more clinical trials to children, allowing kids to benefit from drug discoveries at the same pace as adult patients instead of waiting for studies later on.
How are we making a difference? Breaking down barriers to treatment options is key for many pediatric patients to give them access to effective drugs as fast as possible. With fewer than 10% of all cancer drugs developed to treat pediatric cancers, Pediatric Fast Track could transform the number of effective drugs that are made available for kids around the world. This leading-edge initiative gives researchers at MSK Kids the resources they need to quickly and safely adapt new cancer therapies for kids.
What’s the latest? Drugs that are already showing great promise in a clinical trial for adults could be repurposed for children whose cancer is fueled by the same genetic mutations. MSK Kids is working to move newly discovered drugs that work successfully on adults into trials for kids faster than ever. When a drug originally created for adults works for a pediatric cancer patient, not only is the family given new hope, but it can also lead to pharmaceutical companies accelerating the launch of clinical trials—making it accessible to more kids.
MSK Kids is also working to expand access to drugs approved for adults by lowering the age of clinical trials to 12 years old and open up the possibility that very sick pediatric patients could use treatments originally created for other kinds of cancer in order to give them a new option that they didn’t have before.
What is Wilms’ Tumor? Wilms’ tumor, also called nephroblastoma, is the most common kind of kidney cancer in children—it makes up about 95% of all childhood kidney cancers, but only 6% of all childhood cancers. Overall, only 500 children in the US are diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor each year, and most of them can be cured with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. But if the cancer is aggressive or comes back after treatment, it becomes much more difficult to treat.
How are we making a difference? Because Wilms’ tumor is rare, most doctors have limited experience in caring for children who have it. However, our doctors have a long history of diagnosing and treating children with Wilms’ tumor. MSK Kids treats up to 10 new patients each year. To better treat our patients, the MSK Kids research team developed a tool for molecular analysis to identify urine biomarkers in children with kidney cancer.
What’s the latest? Recently, our researchers made an incredible discovery: high levels of a protein called PGBD5 in the urine of children with Wilms’ tumor tells doctors that there is a risk of the cancer coming back. This biomarker can also help doctors predict if the child will respond well to standard treatment or if they’ll need a more precisely tailored approach to overcome drug resistance. Not only did this open up doors for kids diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor, but researchers also believe this genetic mechanism may be the cause of many childhood cancers—inspiring new treatment strategies to use this process for other types of cancer.