Personalised medicine explained: the future of childhood cancer treatment
May 2, 2014
As we celebrate 30 years of dedicated medical research into childhood cancer, we are very excited to be at the forefront of a new era in childhood cancer treatment: personalised medicine.
You may have heard the term a lot recently, but what does personalised medicine actually mean?
Personalised medicine refers to treatment that is tailored to the genetic make-up of the patient. It is particularly promising in the area of childhood cancer, as very young children who undergo current treatments have a high risk of long-term side effects such as learning disorders, hearing impairment and future cancers.
A ‘one size fits all’ approach to treating children with cancer does not work, especially for those unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with the most aggressive cancers.
Most people don’t realise that childhood cancer is different from adult cancer — it has different causes, occurs in different tissues and behaves differently, and therefore requires differently tailored treatments. This means personalised medicine is the key to improving survival rates for children with cancer and giving them the best possible quality of life.
Children’s Cancer Institute is ideally positioned to accelerate its Personalised Medicine Program, which will allow our researchers to identify treatments that will be tailored to each child’s individual characteristics and biology. This will pinpoint drugs for each child’s treatment that will have the greatest likelihood of success.
About Children’s Cancer Institute
Originally founded by two fathers of children with cancer in 1976, Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Forty years on, our vision remains unchanged – to save the lives of all children with cancer and to eliminate their suffering. The Institute has grown to now employ more than 220 researchers, operational staff and students, and has established a national and international reputation for scientific excellence.
Our focus is on translational research, and we have an integrated team of laboratory researchers and clinician scientists who work together in partnership to discover new treatments which can be progressed from the lab bench to the beds of children on wards in our hospitals as quickly as possible. These new treatments are specifically targeting childhood cancers, so we can develop safer and more effective drugs and drug combinations that will minimise side-effects and ultimately give children with cancer the best chance of a cure with the highest possible quality of life.
We are currently leading the establishment of the Zero Childhood Cancer national child cancer personalised medicine program for children with the most aggressive cancers, in partnership with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. This program will revolutionise the way treatment decisions are made, with the aim of improving survivorship for those children at highest risk of treatment failure from their disease.