Personalised Medicine

Co-Head of Theme: Vanessa Tyrrell

Co-Head of Theme: Associate Professor Paul Ekert

The challenge in curing every child with cancer is that every child’s cancer is different. A treatment that works for one child may not work for another. By analysing each child’s unique cancer cells and finding therapies that specifically target those cells, the Zero Childhood Cancer national personalised medicine program gives each child with high-risk or relapsed cancer the best chance of survival, while at the same time minimising their risk of debilitating side effects.

Children with cancer are currently treated with adult cancer drugs, because that's all that is available.

finding better treatments

This personalised or precision medicine approach generates vast volumes of multiple types of genomic and biological data that needs to be interrogated, analysed, and interpreted. This presents us with the unprecedented opportunity to better understand children’s cancers. We focus on developing new methods to more comprehensively analyse and monitor a child’s cancer, and new and advanced computational approaches which identify and prioritise clinically relevant genomic alterations that can be used to alter a child’s treatment in real time. What’s more, by modelling and studying the genetic changes found in the cancer cells, we hope to improve risk prediction, determine how these changes cause and drive a child’s individual cancer, and to identify existing, or develop new, targeted therapies against their cancer.

Our findings don’t just benefit individual cancer patients today, they also contribute to the overall understanding of childhood cancer and improved health outcomes for children in the future, by delivering the right treatment to the right child at the right time.