Charlie’s Letters 2


The festive season is a time to celebrate with friends and family. It can also be a hard time, where we cherish the memory of loved ones lost.
This December, the Charlie Teo Foundation (CTF) will be sharing the stories of our children and young who have been taken from us too soon, and how we are working to change the future for patients with brain cancer and their families.
In his latest letter, Charlie takes a moment to remember those who have lost their lives to brain cancer and to show you how CTF is fighting for the future of our youth.

8 December 2020

Hello friends,

As 2020 draws to an end, I find myself looking ahead… I see a brighter future on the horizon for the world, and for everyone who has been touched by brain cancer. That future may not be immediate, but I hold hope in humanity that we will get there.
What is our future? It is our children and our youth. They are the ones that hold the destiny of this earth and our species in their hands.
Nothing destroys our destiny more than the death of a child. It is a combination of the incongruity of a parent out-living their offspring, the innocence of a child, the injustice of a disease where the victim is blameless and the unfairness of taking someone before they get to experience all that life has to offer. As a neurosurgeon I sadly see this every single week. I never forget the loss of a child.

What is our future? It is our children and our youth. We fight for their future.

Harry was a patient of mine many years ago, yet I recall his story almost on a daily basis. He died of a brainstem glioma at the tender age of 7. In his 7 short years he demonstrated amazing personality traits. Extreme compassion. Nurturing and kindness to his younger brother. Phenomenal courage and maturity in his approach to his terminal disease. A positive attitude that was contagious to his family and carers.

I often ponder on how the world would have been a better place if Harry could have lived a full life. He may have been a motivational speaker, a respected leader or a diplomat. He may have found the cure for cancer or invented a sustainable energy source. How sad that we will never know the potential contribution that Harry may have made to our humanity.

Our children are our future. They are our hope. How then does a disease that kills more children in Australia than any other disease, receive very little funding from our Government? Brain cancer is ranked NUMBER 1 for its socio-economic impact on society because it not only kills children, but it is also the most common cause of cancer-related death in young adults. It knocks our young out of the workforce and society in the prime of their life.

When funds and resources are allocated to the right people and right projects miracles can happen.

My soul is more ablaze than ever with fierce determination to change this. I am confident that CTF is on the right track to achieve change. We may be a grassroots charity, and may not receive Government funding, but when funds and resources are allocated to the right people and right projects, miracles can happen.

Despite the challenges of this year, COVID-19 has not halted our efforts. I am
pleased to announce that over the last 6 months since I last wrote to you, we have awarded 3 new brain cancer research grants totalling over AU$800k to the best brains from Australia and around the globe. Let me introduce you to our newest researchers:

A/Prof Jeff Holst – Starving brain cancer
We’re cutting its energy supply

A biochemist at the University of New South Wales Sydney, Jeff has been awarded $136,500 to look at a way to stop the growth of brain cancer by cutting its energy supply. His team will look into starving the cancer cells of the essential nutrients needed for their growth and survival. This research will build upon the work of our Cancer Genomics – The Next Level project as the data collected on the energy sources needed by brain cancer cells will be integrated and matched with the genetic data, creating the ultimate roadmap of what and how cancer cells grow and survive.

A/Prof Peter Fecci – Unshackling the immune system

After decades of failures, scientists finally found effective ways of turning the immune system against cancers, with spectacular results – except for brain cancer. Peter a neurosurgeon from Duke University in the U.S is an expert on T-cells – they are part of our immune system that seek and destroy potential threats and keep you healthy.
Unfortunately, in brain cancer the T-cells are typically muzzled by checkpoint
proteins. Peter was one of the first to identify this T-cell dysfunction in brain cancer and working alongside 2012 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Prof Robert J.
Lefkowitz, we’ve awarded the team $477,343 to find out how we can take the break of the T-cells so they can do their job.

Dr Alan Wang – A new drug
We’re bringing new treatments to the table

We’ve encouraged collaboration of an Australian pharmaceutical research company, Pharmaxis, and a molecular biologist at one of the most prestigious comprehensive cancer centers, MD Anderson, to test a new experimental drug. We’ve funded the team $187,000 to conduct pivotal experiments showing how the drug works to facilitate the killing of brain cancer cells to progress the drug moving into clinical trials of brain cancer patients.

Dr Scott Floyd – Has the cancer come back?
We’re improving diagnostic accuracy

A radiation oncologist at Duke University in the U.S, Scott is looking into the long- standing question, has the brain cancer come back or is that necrosis, a side effect of radiation treatment? He and his team are pioneering the use of laser interstitial thermal therapy to study new imaging tools aimed at differentiating recurrent tumour from necrosis. What this means is that subsequent unnecessary surgeries could be avoided when its not the tumour recurring but a side effect of the radiation. We’re funding the team $180,005 to get this technique into clinic.
We also have some exciting new projects in the pipeline that I will announce in 2021.
Further, my pledge to you remains strong that we will stay lean and transparent. Our costs (which include both admin costs & fundraising costs) remain at under 20% of total income since we launched in 2018. To our loyal volunteers and companies that support us pro bono – you know who you are – I thank you wholeheartedly.

My soul is more ablaze than ever with fierce determination to change the future
for people diagnosed with brain cancer.

This month we will be sharing the stories of families who have felt the heart-breaking loss of a loved one to brain cancer. These stories demonstrate the tremendous courage that people show when facing diagnosis with a terminal disease.
Whether you have been personally affected by brain cancer or simply are shocked by the statistics, I invite you to join me. Read these stories. Share them with your friends. Stand up and act. Spread the word about brain cancer. Give by clicking the donate button below. Join me and do whatever you can to help us offer a future to people with brain cancer.
Thank you to all our supporters. Your continued generosity is a blessing and
something we never take for granted. You believe in our approach to funding brain cancer research and I am humbled to carry the torch with you into the new year and beyond.

Let’s keep working together to ensure that our children just like Harry get to
experience all that life has to offer.



Prof Charlie Teo AM

P.S. Read more about our game-changing research strategy and grants and Review our latest financials.