Research Report 2011

Denise Caruso provided her final report to CIKA in July 2011.

The current Phase I clinical trials utilizing anti-tumour vaccines to treat children who have failed standard therapies will be finishing up in the 2011/2012 year. We will continue to offer this treatment for any eligible patients during this time whilst we begin data collection for the completed trial participants. We will then collect and analyse follow up clinical data and correlate this with our lab based experiments. This part of the clinical trial is heavily based on the lab experiments and we are lucky to have an honours student helping us this year to complete this work. These experiments will form the basis of his thesis as he has a keen interest in cancer immunotherapies.

Moving on from this work, we have several patient-related projects that will help us further understand the effects of tumours on the immune system and why and how they escape the immune system’s normal ability to eliminate tumour cells. One project focuses on understanding the ineffective immune system found in people with cancer, while the other project looks to develop new immunotherapy agents that may be useful for several types of cancer.

Furthermore, the Children’s Cancer Centre has been, for several years now, running a Tumour Bank to be sure to capture precious samples for research purposes. This Tumour Bank was implemented as a direct result of the clinical trials that CIKA has funded. Recently there has been a renewed appreciation for this resource and an understanding within the RCH, MCRI and wider community of the importance such a facility has on the impact for paediatric research locally and internationally. Thus, we need to upgrade our current Tumour Bank to come into line with other tumour banks with the view of creating a paediatric tumour bank network. A coordinated tumour banking approach will allow researchers the opportunity to do clearly defined and applied research projects by increasing both the number and quality of samples. A high quality Tumour Bank will be an invaluable resource for the advancement in the research on paediatric cancers.

Denise A. Caruso, B.S., Ph.D.