The Snowdome Foundation (SF) strategically identifies projects or areas of research to fund which will accelerate new therapies to Australian patients with blood cancers.

Projects funded should build on a track record of success in accelerating new therapies to patients, in particular where evidence and international experience show they are a proven way to accelerate the development of new therapies.

The SF strategically identifies projects or areas of research to fund. It does not accept unsolicited proposals nor does it have pre-specified ‘funding rounds’.

All Projects must meet the following CRITERIA:

Mission:  Grants must fall within the SF Mission; To accelerate new therapies to Australian patients with blood cancers.

Focus:  Grants must meet all of the ’Focus’ criteria listed. The grant funding must:

  • deliver new therapies to blood cancer patients in the foreseeable future
  • involve Australian researchers in Australia
  • involve new therapies that are part of the ‘new pillars’ for therapy
  • have quantifiable outcomes and reasonable milestones, set and agreed upon in advance
  • not be stand-alone laboratory research
  • not predominantly involve supportive care, psychosocial support, housing, transport

Priorities:  Grant applications will be taken into consideration and prioritised more highly if they incorporate some or all of the ‘Priorities’ criteria listed below.  The grant funding should:

  • facilitate clinical trial accrual
  • rank highly as an internationally competitive project
  • not substantially replicated elsewhere
  • not generally be suitable for funding by classic funding bodies (such as NHMRC)
  • be part of a consortium that involves more than one hospital
  • leverage (now or potentially) other funding sources
  • be reviewed by a recognised peer-reviewing body
  • have potential for intellectual property to flow back to Snowdome supported research
  • identify and improve therapies for improving patient access and outcomes for blood cancers

Examples of funding support:

  1. Clinical Trials
  • Direct injection of funds into clinical trials
  • Clinical trials must meet ‘principles’ outlined
  • Strong preference to investigator-initiated studies
  • Will not fund pharma ‘Registration’ studies
  • Will not fund research studies ‘bolted-on’ to pharma-funded trials (such scientific research must be part of a separate research project that meets ‘principles’)
  1. Human Capital
  • clinical researchers to develop clinical trials
  • nurses to increase accrual into clinical trials
  • biostatisticians to develop/analyse trial data
  • administrative support to coordinate clinical trials

Note: for funding of human capital the SF uses the following guidelines:

  • the funding should ‘fill a gap’ in existing resources
  • SF should not fund hospital infrastructure nor support poor business practices (i.e. clinical trials units at hospitals should be operating as an efficient business model based on income generated from pharma-supported trials. SF may look to fund the expansion of good business models and/or fund human capital that focuses on projects that meet the ‘principles': thus accelerating access to new therapies)
  • Funding should be PREDOMINANTLY for work for new therapies. Snowdome recognises that funding human capital must allow for the recipient to perform some non-trial-related activities. SF recommends
  • a maximum of 10% non-trial related activities (i.e. committees etc.)
  • a maximum of 30% of patients accrued should be toward pharma registration-like studies (i.e. 70%+ of their work (patients accrued/time spent on studies), should be on trials such as Investigator-Initiated Trials (IITs), early phase studies or collaborative (eg. Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group) studies
  1. Centres of Excellence or multi-faceted projects or initiatives that are innovative and will lead to more patients getting access to novel therapies
  2. Equipment/facilities etc. that enhance capacity for patients to access new drugs

Exclusions

  • Basic research that does not eventuate into clinical treatments in the foreseeable future
  • Supportive care or psychosocial support
  • Housing or accommodation
  • Late phase trials which are predominantly funded by pharmaceutical companies (although these may be part of larger strategy of trial program)

Pillars of Blood Cancer Therapy

To date, the Snowdome Foundation has focused on epigenetic research and supporting activities that increase the availability of epigenetic clinical trials for patients with blood cancers.

Thus, in the next 6 months Snowdome would like to expand ‘beyond epigenetics’ and strategically, we have decided to explore opportunities that:

1) involve early stage clinical trials

2) are projects that may be more ‘disease focused’ (i.e. lymphoma, leukaemia, myeloma) as long as they involve getting better access to new drugs (especially through clinical trials).

We recognise that it is a changing environment; in the immediate future we plan to support the following ‘pillars’ of blood cancer therapies (not necessarily mutually exclusive):

  1. epigenetics – the chemical reactions that switch on/off genes;
  2. precision (personalised) medicine – matching the cancer’s mutations to a drug treatment;
  3. immune therapies – boosting the immune system to fight cancers;
  4. monoclonal antibodies – golden bullets that bind onto and kill the cancer cell;
  5. pro-apoptotic agents – to make an immortal cell commit suicide;
  6. targeting the microenvironment – making the cancer cell’s environment hostile to its growth.