Tissue Bank Samples Help in the Search for Cures to a Range of Childhood Cancers

2017 and 2018 saw the commencement of a further eight projects, seven of which have so far been provided with samples from the tissue bank at the Children’s Cancer Centre (CCC) and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI).  The first 2019 project is still in the planning phase. CIKA has been providing funds to support the tissue bank since its establishment in 2014.  To read about the projects undertaken from 2014 to 2016, please click here.

Molecular characterisation of paediatric central nervous system tumours
Research undertaken at the MCRI
Aim: To investigate the molecular profile (both genetic and epigenetic) of paediatric CNS tumours in order to identify biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis, and to identify altered molecular pathways underpinning their development and progression.
Number of specimens used: 2
Project status: Ongoing.

Integrating genomic sequencing into clinical care: a demonstration evaluation. Advanced solid tumour cancers
Research undertaken at the MCRI and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
Aim: To employ genomic sequencing to identify genetic changes that are advance the growth of a patient’s cancer, and then to target these changes with specific drug therapies.
Number of specimens used: 9
Project status: Ongoing.

Detection of copy number alterations in circulating tumour DNA using next generation sequencing
Research undertaken at the MCRI, the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute
Aim: To apply next-generation sequencing methods to cell free DNA from paediatric patients with solid malignant tumours to profile variations in the tumour genome. The ultimate therapeutic goal of the analysis of circulating tumour DNA is to be able to follow treatment responses.
Number of specimens used: 8
Project status: Ongoing.

Investigations into growth disorders of imprinting
Research undertaken in the Department of Pathology, Monash Health
Aim: To identify new genes underlying the development of Wilms tumour, a childhood kidney cancer that arises within the context of overgrowth disorders
Number of specimens used: 26
Project status: Ongoing.

Identification of a novel prognostic marker in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
Research undertaken at the MCRI, CSIRO and Monash University
Aim: To significantly change best clinical practice for treatment of ALL, based upon the team’s prior identification of a specific receptor with drug resistance and poor prognosis.
Number of specimens used: 180
Project status: Ongoing

Molecular and Functional Characterization of Paediatric Solid Tumours
Research undertaken at the MCRI and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research
Aim: To significantly improve treatment for childhood cancer patients with the greatest unmet clinical need, namely those diagnosed with brain cancers and solid tumours.  
Number of specimens used: material from 9 participants
Project status: Ongoing

Evaluation of the Risk of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia treatment Side-Effects
Research undertaken at the MCRI and the Kids’ Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital
Aim: To improve cure rates for high-risk subgroups by identifying clinical and genomic markers predictive of severe treatment-related toxicities.
Number of specimens used: 102
Project status: closed

Identifying therapeutic vulnerabilities in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia to inform biology-guided treatment
Research to be undertaken at the MCRI and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Aim: To identify potentially more efficacious treatments in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia who respond poorly to or relapse following standard-of-care therapy.
This project was approved in June 2016 and patient identification and specimen selection has commenced.
Project status: Ongoing.

2019 planning phase
Investigating the genetic basis of bone marrow failure syndrome
Research to be undertaken at the MCRI and the CCC

More information on each of these projects will be published in forthcoming issues of CIKA eNews.

To read a summary of of previous projects, click here.

To read the entire report, click here.