Australian children with high-risk cancer will have access to new genome sequencing technologies that could guide their treatment. The Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project will provide whole genome sequencing and analysis for 400 children with high-risk cancer in Australia who will be enrolled in the Zero Childhood Cancer program.
The Zero Childhood Cancer Program, launched in September 2015, is currently globally one of the most detailed genetic and biological analyses of a child’s cancer, and the project is an important new component of the program.
Whole genome sequencing will take place following diagnosis or relapse of cancers with the poorest prognoses, such as brain tumours.
Sequencing looks at each child’s entire genome and its 20,000+ genes in order to define the genetic changes associated with a given cancer. This makes it possible to develop personalised cancer treatment by integrating genetic information with other biological and clinical data.
In addition, the study will identify genetic changes in each child’s DNA that might predispose to cancer, helping to build up a database of genetic risk factors that could assist with prevention and treatment strategies in the future.
At any one time in Australia, over 2000 children, adolescents and young adults, are on active treatment for cancer or at risk of relapse. In most cases, the treatments used are general, non-targeted, cytotoxic drugs and the side effects from treatment can be serious and lifelong.
The Zero Childhood Cancer Program is a national initiative of Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) and The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, giving hope to children with the highest risk of treatment failure or relapse. Genome sequencing and analysis for the project will be carried out at Garvan Institute of Medical Research’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics.
The Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project is supported by the Lions Club International Foundation and by the Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation. The project will roll out through the Zero Childhood Cancer Program to children’s hospitals across Australia in 2017.
The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) welcomes the new initiative and partnership which will contribute towards improving children’s quality of life and ending all childhood cancers.
ACRF has supported Children’s Cancer Institute, including the Zero Childhood Program, by providing three grants, totalling AUD $5.1million, towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology. ACRF has also supported cancer research at Garvan Institute of Medical Research, including the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, with three grants, totalling AUD $6.13million.