Molecular Characterization of Paediatric Brain Tumours

CIKA recently received the following report from Dorani Lacey, Grants Officer at the RCH.

Given the rarity of paediatric brain tumours, the key to understanding their biology and behaviour involves international collaboration.  This project will focus on paediatric central nervous system (CNS) tumours.  We will prospectively begin collection and creation of tumour models and test systems using neurosphere, tissue culture and mouse models.

The CCC at RCH and MCRI and our collaborators in Seattle (Dr. Sarah Leary, Seattle Children’s Hospital), Toronto (Dr. Annie Huang and Dr. Michael Taylor, Hospital for Sick Children), Boston (Dr. Mark Kieran and Dr. Pratiti Bandopadhayay, Dana Farber Cancer Institute) and Perth (Dr. Nick Gottardo, Telethon Institute of Health Research and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children) are performing research to understand the molecular mechanisms of childhood cancer.  Scientists are trying to discover how cancer develops and how genes affect the response to treatment.  These research studies rely on using tissue samples removed from patients in the operating theatre during the normal course of clinical investigation and treatment.  CCC represents the largest centre for the treatment of paediatric cancers in Australia.  Researchers are extremely limited in the application of their research to paediatric cancer due to the lack of access to high quality human samples for experimentation.  High quality and adequate sample numbers are required to assure statistical significance.  Paediatric tumours are rare and obtaining bankable quality tumour material for research is even rarer.

The Anatomical Pathology Department at RCH holds one of the largest collections of archived paediatric CNS tumour material amenable to molecular analysis with matched clinical data located anywhere in the world. The archive houses formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue collected since the 1950’s.  Archival samples are amenable to molecular analysis and thus represent an invaluable resource for our research project which strives to understand the mechanisms of childhood cancer.  The aim of this protocol is to utilise an archival collection of CNS tumour material in the Anatomical Pathology Department at RCH, from patients who have previously undergone treatment at CCC for these rare diseases.  Researchers also request access to prospectively collected CNS tumour tissue and cell lines generated by the CCC Tissue Bank.

Our children, through prospective evaluation of these tumours, will have access to cutting edge molecular techniques and diagnostics not otherwise a part of standard care. Prospectively, through the established tumour bank at RCH and our collaborations locally with Dr. Clare Scott at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, we also hope to establish cell line and xenograft models of these rare tumours as they present to the RCH acutely.

By understanding these tumours at the molecular level, we may be able to target our therapies better and to design better clinical trials, not only for the children at the RCH but all those with these rare tumours no matter where they are in the world.

By re-establishing the RCH brain tumour research program through collaborations such as these we will redefine RCH in the global setting and attract more research interest, better clinical collaboration and further funding of successful programs such as these.

It’s been fantastic working with you and the rest of your incredibly dedicated team.  Wishing you all the best!

Kind Regards,


Dorani Lacey
Grants Officer