Today the Burkitt’s Lymphoma Fund for Africa and Direct Relief announced that UPCID Ltd (a collaboration between the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Uganda Cancer Institute) was selected to receive grant funds and medicine to treat 300 Ugandan children for Burkitt’s lymphoma for two years at the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala.
Burkitt’s lymphoma is a life-threatening malignancy and is the most common cancer for children living in Uganda. The average age of a child with the disease is five. A fast-growing tumor often develops in the jaw or abdomen that can interfere with breathing and make it difficult for young patients to feed adequately, leading to malnutrition. Currently, the five-year survival rate in Uganda is less than 40 percent.
“More than 85 percent of these children could be cured for less than $600 a case,” said Corey Casper, M.D., M.P.H., associate member of the Hutchinson Center’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division and co-scientific director of the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance.
Following a competitive selection process, Seattle-based Burkitt’s Lymphoma Fund for Africa (BLFA) awarded UPCID a grant of $128,000 to cover a variety of costs for patient care and treatment. In total, two East African organizations were selected to receive these initial grants from BLFA: UPCID and the OGRA Foundation in Kenya.
“Burkitt’s Lymphoma Fund for Africa was established two years ago, following a trip to East Africa where we saw first-hand the tragedy of children dying from this very aggressive form of cancer. It still amazes us that UPCID will be funding treatment for 300 Ugandan children and making a difference for a grant of less than $65,000 per year,” said Miriam Sevy, Board President of BLFA.
Direct Relief International is supplying cancer treatment medications in collaboration with BLFA. The treatment program will begin in 2012. Direct Relief is donating both medicines and related supplies to treat 300 children in Uganda and 250 children in Kenya.
The UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance was formed in 2008 to spearhead research on cancers in the developing world with a special focus on infectious disease-related cancers. The collaboration concentrates on developing new models for the delivery of cancer care in resource-limited settings, and training the next generation of healthcare providers and researchers in infection-related cancers relevant to both sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.