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Zero Childhood Cancer

“bringing us a step closer to the vision
of one day curing all children of cancer” 
- Professor Michelle Haber
About Zero Childhood Cancer

It is a national initiative and one of the world’s most comprehensive child cancer personalized medicine studies.  It is led by the Children’s Cancer Institute (www.ccia.org.au)  and the Kids Cancer Centre (www.kids-cancer.org) at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick (www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au) in collaboration with scientists from 19 leading Australian and international research institutes and doctors from all 8 of Australia’s paediatric cancer centres.  It is one of the most exciting childhood cancer research initiatives ever undertaken in Australia to tackle the most serious cases of infant, childhood and adolescent cancer.

This personalized medicine program aims to prove that personalized medicine, tailoring treatment recommendations to individual children’s cancers through better scientific analysis of their tumours, can change outcomes.  In many cases, it can lead to the use of a drug not previously tried or even considered and, in some cases, even changing a child’s exact cancer diagnosis.

How is Zero achieving its goals?

Despite the dramatic increase in childhood cancer survival rates over the last 60 years from virtually 0 to 80%, 3 children and adolescents still die every week in Australia from cancer and more than 200 children and adolescents in Australia will be diagnosed this year with a cancer type that has less than 30% survival, either on first diagnosis or after relapsing from their disease.

“Professor Michelle Haber, Executive Director, CCI explains:
“Using the latest molecular profiling techniques and laboratory testing of patient cancer cells against a wide range of anti-cancer drugs, Zero Childhood Cancer is giving unprecedented genetic and biological information for children with the most aggressive cancers.  It is arguably the most comprehensive personalized medicine program for children with cancer in the world” ” 
-  Professor Michelle Haber 
Executive Director 
Children’s Cancer Institute

The Zero Childhood Cancer program recognizes that each child’s cancer is unique, so the response to the anti-cancer treatment is different.  Zero Childhood Cancer will mean that children with the most aggressive or relapsed cancer will have their tumour samples sent to the laboratories at the Children’s Cancer Institute where the researchers will leverage the most innovative research, technology and tests to more precisely analyse the genetic makeup of each individual child’s cancer, and the response of their cancer to hundreds of anticancer drugs.  This will enable identification of the precise drug or drugs that have the greatest likelihood of being effective against each child’s individual cancer and so, through this personalized treatment, give each child the best chance of survival, with the fewest side effects.


A Multi-Disciplinary Tumour Board, comprising clinicians from around Australia together with scientists, bioinformaticians, geneticists, pathologists and biologists, meet fortnightly to review the complex information from the sophisticated Zero Childhood Cancer testing platform and recommend a personalized treatment plan for each individual child.

Click the map to view the participating hospitals and research centres: 

Zero childhood cancer research partners
“Zero Childhood Cancer is about using the best science we have to give hope to children with high risk cancer.  We must try a different approach.  Accepting the status quo means that 80% of these children won’t survive to celebrate another birthday”
-  Associate Professor Tracy O’Brien, Director of Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital.

Outcomes one year on…


  • 129 children are registered for the trial after just 11 months, each of these children with an aggressive cancer that is identified as having less than a 30% change of survival


  • Of these 36% have been enrolled at the time of relapse, 38% at diagnosis and 26% with progression of disease


  • In terms of cancer types, 36% have brain cancer, 29% sarcoma, 13% leukaemia, 6% neuroblastoma and 16% other rate cancers


  • For 67% of children a personalized treatment plan has been recommended


  • Average turnaround time from receipt of samples to personalized treatment recommendation is 9 weeks.


What is Lenity’s involvement?


Lenity financial support is distributed equally for clinical and research purposes.  

“the information we gather will not only benefit children on the national clinical trial but will inform new discoveries and further clinical trials that we believe will impact and benefit generations of children with cancer in the future”
– Professor Michelle Haber, Executive Director, CCI

Learn more about Zero Childhood Cancer

The Zero Childhood Cancer national clinical trial will recruit 400 children nationally over a 3-year period.  In addition to benefitting children on the clinical trial, Zero Childhood Cancer will mean that the knowledge and understanding of these aggressive cancers at a molecular level, will be shared with collaborators and partners nationally and internationally to benefit all children with cancer in the future.  Thus, the data gathered will enable evidence-based treatment options in the present, as well as building a powerful research repository for the future, enabling further discoveries to flow from the trial. 


The program is free to children who meet the clinical trial enrolment criteria. Enrolment is through their treating oncologist.  The trial is sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG).