Josephine Laura Dun was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma in February 2018, then just 2 years of age. The daughter of local GP, Dr Phoebe Hindley (Dun), and of Biomedical Scientist, Associate Professor Matt Dun – as well as an adored big sister to George (and soon Harriet and Henri), the family found themselves in a tragic, but unique position to make a difference for all patients and families impacted by DIPG.
Matt and Phoebe, together with Josie’s treating oncologists set out to understand everything they could about DIPG.
It soon became clear to Matt as a cancer researcher that very little was known about DIPG. A type of ‘diffuse midline glioma’ or DMG, the mechanisms controlling the tumour growth and its ability to avoid normal cell death processes are poorly understood.
To address this, Matt’s own cancer research group (previously leukaemia-focused) at The University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute set about creating their own program of DIPG/DMG research.
Worldwide, the scientific community shared their DIPG/DMG-specific research protocols – even the field-leading laboratory at Stanford University assisted in training Associate Professor Dun’s staff in the techniques required to model DIPG/ DMG in a petri dish type container known as a ‘cell culture flask’.
Josephine passed away in December 2019, 22 months post diagnosis, forever four years old. Unfortunately, most patients do not survive nearly as long; median survival is just 9-11 months post DIPG diagnosis.