Nav: Home

New tumor test could guide personalized treatment for children with cancer

January 23, 2019

Scientists at the University of British Columbia and BC Children's Hospital are the first in Canada to use a new test for pediatric tumour analysis that may one day guide personalized treatments for children with cancer.

Working with researchers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, the team analyzed 28 childhood tumour samples from nine cancer types archived in the BC Children's Hospital Biobank.

They found that the pediatric cancer-focused test found more genetic mutations per sample compared with tests used to analyze adult cancers, and better identified weaknesses that can potentially be targeted with drugs.

From extracting DNA from cancer cells, to sequencing and analyzing a sample, the whole process ideally takes two to three days in the lab. The new technology allows genes of interest to be amplified and can provide results for up to 16 patients in one week. At the end, researchers have a list of possible drugs that may target the pediatric cancer cells.

"Pediatric cancers are often very aggressive, so doing these types of tests need to be very fast," said lead author Amanda Lorentzian, a UBC graduate student. "Using targeted sequencing allows for a fast turnaround time and a simple workflow. It has a lot of potential to inform better treatment options for pediatric patients."

The results are part of Lorentzian's work with Chris Maxwell and Philipp Lange, co-senior study authors, in an innovative field of cancer treatment research called precision oncology. Similar tests have been designed for adult cancers, but childhood cancers require a unique approach since different tissues are affected and fewer drugs are safe for treating children.

"This test uses DNA sequencing technology to look at thousands of specific regions in the tumour's genome and identify changes or mutations in those areas," said Maxwell, an associate professor in UBC's department of pediatrics and investigator with the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program at BC Children's Hospital.

Currently, most children diagnosed with cancer receive treatment and survive. For many cancer types there is greater than an 80 per cent cure rate, but the possibility of relapse is always looming.

"Because cure rates drop dramatically for children that suffer a cancer relapse, we hope this new technology may identify more targeted treatments," said Lange, an assistant professor in UBC's department of pathology and laboratory medicine, Canada Research Chair in Translational Proteomics of Pediatric Malignancies, and investigator with the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program at BC Children's Hospital. "In addition, we are thinking of ways that we can use this technology in a more proactive way to study the child's cancer early and prepare for a disease relapse prior to its occurrence."

While proactive treatment plans are still years in the future following clinical trials, this study is the first step toward a personalized standard of care for childhood cancer patients.
-end-
The research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) Cancer Spectrum. Funding was provided by the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Foundation as part of the BRAvE Initiative at BC Children's Hospital and supported by Team4Hope.

University of British Columbia

Related Cancer Articles:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Processing The Pandemic
Between the pandemic and America's reckoning with racism and police brutality, many of us are anxious, angry, and depressed. This hour, TED Fellow and writer Laurel Braitman helps us process it all.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Invisible Allies
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they've come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe's biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.