Oncoheroes story could not be explained without understanding how our Founders know each other and their personal stories.
Cesare's first daughter, Laura, was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer on April 20th, 2005 at the age of 3. The situation appeared very critical from the outset, as neuroendocrine carcinoma is relatively rare in children and no valid treatment options were available. Doctors were not confident that existing drugs would work for Laura. So it was not a surprise when they did not.
After several rounds of harsh chemotherapy and 3 surgeries, Laura eventually lost her battle with cancer on June 16th, 2006.
On November 29th, 2011, Ricardo’s son, Richi, was diagnosed with high-risk medulloblastoma, one of the most aggressive childhood brain tumors in existence. He had just turned 6 years old. One year later and moving to Boston, Richi finished his treatment after having endured 18 surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy.
Richi is now considered a cancer survivor and continues his fight daily while living with a long list of side effects.
The same year, both Cesare and Ricardo founded their respective non-profits to fight childhood cancer from different perspectives.
Cesare decided that something had to be done to address the lack of innovative drugs for children with cancer. He wanted to use his drug development expertise and connections to change the outlook for these vulnerable patients. Together with other drug development experts he launched in 2013 aPODD Foundation (accelerating Paediatric Oncology Drug Development), a UK-based foundation dedicated to find better treatments for children and adolescents with cancer.
Ricardo also discovered an unknown reality for him: childhood cancer was considered a rare disease and research was, and still, is not advancing. Thus, he decided that he could not just sit back and do nothing, and founded the Richi Childhood Cancer Foundation in February 2013, a non-profit based in Boston whose mission is to ensure that all children and adolescents who suffer from cancer have the best prognosis and quality of life.
Through one of the initiatives from the Richi Foundation, Ricardo and Marc met. That was the beginning of strong relationship, including Marc joining the Board Of Directors of the Richi Foundation.
Thanks to Marc’s expertise and his positioning within the Boston Life Science ecosystem, Marc starts guiding and helping Ricardo to evolve Ricardo’s ideas to boost childhood cancer therapies.
After all those years Cesare and Ricardo independently realized as many others that pumping additional philanthropic dollars into pediatric academic research will probably contribute to create more important findings and impactful publications but unlikely to result in a new pediatric drug.
Both Cesare and Ricardo felt that the only way to guarantee a real impact to kids and teens with cancer would require a completely different approach. Eventually the two met on a gorgeous fall day in Boston.
Cesare and Ricardo, with Marc’s guidance, start shaping and defining this new unprecedented approach in childhood cancer. In August 2017, Oncoheroes was born.