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Young researchers zoom in to early stages of childhood cancer

November 25, 2015

Two inspiring postdoctoral researchers from Children’s Cancer Institute, Dr Daniel Carter and Dr Duohui (Vincent) Jing, will be describing the early stages of neuroblastoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia disease at a detailed molecular level to uncover vital clues that could lead to more effective treatments.

Dr Carter will be exploiting new ‘single-cell profiling’ technology to seek out effective drug targets in neuroblastoma, the most common ‘solid tumour’ in children, by isolating the descendants of the very first nerve cells to become cancerous in neuroblastoma. The genetic makeup of these original cells, as yet unknown, will help explain exactly how neuroblastoma develops and how best to tackle it with drugs.

“There is one marker that appears to distinguish between the harmless cells and their more lethal counterparts – and that is what I will be examining in this project.”

Dr Jing will examine the 3D structure of DNA in white blood cells to determine which children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common childhood cancer, will respond to standard treatment, and which children will not.

By applying emerging knowledge about the structure and regulation of DNA to the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Dr Jing hopes to spare children the side effects of commonly used chemotherapy.

“What I hope to find is a ‘gene signature’, or cluster of genomic regions with an open configuration, that indicate sensitivity to chemotherapy.”

Dr Carter and Dr Jing are recipients of the 2015 Balnaves Foundation Young Researcher’s Fund, each receiving a $100,000 grant from the foundation.

This news item was originally published on the Children’s Cancer Institute’s website. The original version provides more detailed information on the studies.

ACRF has supported cancer research at the Children’s Cancer Institute by providing three major grants, totalling AUD 5.1m.

Image courtesy of Children’s Cancer Institute, on the left Dr Dan Carter next to Dr Vincent Jing.


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