Novel test could guide personalised treatment for children with cancer

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Novel test could guide personalised treatment for children with cancer

Toronto: Researchers have used a new test for analysing paediatric tumours that may one day guide personalised treatment for children with cancer, according to new research.

The new technology can provide results for up to 16 patients in a week.

The study showed that by analysing 28 childhood tumour samples from nine cancer types, the paediatric cancer-focused test found more genetic mutations per sample compared with tests used to examine adult cancers.

In addition, it better identified weaknesses that can potentially be targeted with drugs.

“Paediatric cancers are often very aggressive, so doing these types of tests need to be very fast. 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 paediatric patients,” said lead author Amanda Lorentzian, graduate student at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

“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 Chris Maxwell, associate professor at the varsity.

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, this new technology may identify more targeted treatments, hopes Philipp Lange, assistant professor at the varsity.

In addition, this technology could be used in a more proactive way to study the child’s cancer early and prepare for a disease relapse prior to its occurrence, said the team.

While proactive treatment plans are still years away in the future, this study is the first step toward a personalised standard of care for childhood cancer patients.

Similar tests have been designed for adult cancers, however, childhood cancers require a unique approach since different tissues are affected and fewer drugs are safe for treating children.

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