Brain Cancer Canada Matches Community Fundraising to Support Groundbreaking DIPG Research

TORONTO, May 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Brain Cancer Canada (BCC), a leading advocate in the fight against brain cancers, is proud to announce a $100,000 research grant awarded to Dr. James T. Rutka, Paediatric Neurosurgeon, and his team at The Hospital for Sick Children.

Dr. Rutka’s research project targets childhood Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a highly aggressive tumour that currently has no effective treatments.

The grant starts with an incredible $50,000 raised by the tireless DIPG community, an amount matched by BCC to support this critical research further.

"DIPG is a devastating disease, taking the lives of our precious children far too soon. The loss for patients and their families is immeasurable, and it touches us deeply," said Angela Scalisi, Chair of BCC. "From a broader perspective, DIPG also has one of the highest societal burdens of any disease.”

Dr. Rutka's early-stage research proposes a novel approach to addressing DIPG. His team will investigate the potential of magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) to improve the delivery of therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier, a significant challenge in treating brain tumours.

“The primary aim of our research is to explore innovative methods to deliver therapeutics more effectively to DIPGs,” Dr. Rutka said. “We are excited that our encouraging pre-clinical studies on DIPG have now been translated into the ‘first in human’ clinical trial for children with this otherwise fatal brain-stem tumour. By combining MRgFUS with patient-specific biologicals, we hope to increase the concentration of active compounds within this brain-stem tumour, potentially influencing tumour growth and survival.”

The DIPG community – patients, caregivers, families and friends of patients, and survivors – has been instrumental in fundraising and raising awareness about this devastating disease.

“We didn't get enough time with our sweet, beautiful Isabelle,” said Michal and Jackie Borkowski, parents and active members of the DIPG community. “We can't change what happened to her, but we hope we can help change things for other children fighting DIPG.” The Borkowskis lost their 4-year-old daughter, Isabelle, to DIPG in December 2020.

"This community is a pillar of strength and determination," said Marc Peeters, Director of the Board of Partnerships and Stakeholders at BCC. "This research serves as a focal point for their efforts, and we stand united in our hope for future progress in DIPG treatment."

This research grant embodies the tenacity and hope of the DIPG community. We at BCC are thankful for the support offered by all involved, and incredibly grateful for the efforts of the Borkowski, Morissette-Gagne, Ellsworth, Palmowski and Shankar families.

For more information, please contact Brain Cancer Canada or visit

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Marc Peeters
Director, Partnerships and Stakeholders at Brain Cancer Canada