Establishment of Translational Research Centre

In June 2012 CIKA received a funding request for $460,000 over three years for the establishment of a Translational Research Centre in Paediatric Solid Tumours. A copy of this request can be read here.

A revised and updated proposal was presented in March 2013 as a result of which CIKA committed to a three year project for the establishment of a Translational Research Centre in Paediatric Solid Tumours, to be conducted through a partnership between The Royal Children’s Hospital Cancer Centre and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). By working together we hope to realize our common vision, that through research we can not only improve treatment but also discover a way to prevent childhood tumours.

When CIKA was formed in 1980, patients diagnosed with a solid tumour were given a standard treatment protocol.  However, no two childhood tumours are ever 100% identical, and we now know that differences in these tumours require different treatment. Current approaches to treatment offer only crude ‘tweaking’ of a few generalized treatment protocols.  We know that placing children on standard treatment when they will not respond decreases their chances of overall survival – but alternatives simply do not exist today.

Recent advances in mapping human DNA, have brought us to the cusp of a technological revolution. This revolution will enable us to see the ‘real time’ generation of such a map for all patients, and will allow unprecedented insights into the tumor type, aggressiveness and response to different treatment protocols, all of which will inform an individual’s treatment to maximize chances of a favorable outcome.   The challenge is to discover predictive biomarkers that identify which children are unlikely to respond to conventional treatment to assist in timely direction to more aggressive regimens or clinical trials.

When considering projects to fund, we look for projects that:
conduct research into multiple types of solid tumours;
have the potential to provide benefit to current patients;
build on research we have previously funded.

We believe this project meets all of these criteria.  Its key goals are:
1) to establish a state-of-the-art solid tumour biobank and parallel cell line facility to provide valuable resources for:
° – the identification of molecular markers associated with tumour development, or predictive of outcome;
° – pre-clinical testing of novel therapies directed at specific cellular pathways disrupted in cancer;
2) to use the molecular information to prospectively assist in timely clinical trial enrolment of patients unlikely to respond to current treatments and to attract novel studies.

Banking of tumour tissue is essential for research into childhood tumours, as researchers need access to sufficient numbers of samples of these rare disorders. The RCH CCC tumour bank is one of only a few in the country that routinely collects such tissues for these purposes, and currently houses over a hundred samples.  CIKA was involved in the initial creation of this tumour bank; a 2005 report from the research head stated “Largely as a consequence of the CIKA funded TRAIL project, the Children’s Cancer Centre has comprehensively re-vamped the way tumour samples are processed, for both research and diagnostic purposes.”

To realize our research goals the existing tumour bank needs to be transitioned, and brought to a standard that will facilitate sample and knowledge sharing with other centres nationally with equivalent tumour banks in order to coordinate research projects between teams.   This project will help build solid foundations on which to implement this ‘personalized’ model of care within the RCH Melbourne in the very near future.

To learn more about the tissue bank at the MCRI funded by CIKA, please click here.

You can read an update from the MCRI, written in August 2015 by clicking here.