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New genomics research investigates metastatic childhood cancers
Date:2/22/2011

Vancouver, BC In a project supported by Genome BC, a Vancouver pediatric pathologist at the BC Cancer Agency/University of British Columbia is leading the team that will explore the genomes (DNA) of four of the most challenging childhood cancers known. Dr. Poul Sorensen and his colleagues in the Canadian Pediatric Cancer Genome Consortium hope to find the link between primary and metastatic tumours using revolutionary genomics technology and a highly skilled consortium of scientists and clinicians.

Most cancer deaths are not caused by the primary disease; rather, it is the invasion and spreading of mutated cells to distant sites in the body (metastasized tumours) that tend to give a poor prognosis for the patient. Using next generation sequencing to rapidly scan the DNA of primary tumours, metastatic tumours and normal tissue, Sorensen and his team are discovering fundamental differences between primary and metastatic disease tissue. This knowledge will not only help to determine how to better treat childhood cancers but more importantly give insight into how to prevent tumours from metastasizing to other parts of the body. If the team can determine which genetic mutations cause the disease to spread, then appropriate therapies can hopefully be designed and/or re-directed to prevent metastasis.

"There is little known about metastatic disease in either pediatric or adult cancer," says Sorensen. "Our biggest challenge to improving survival is to understand the biology of metastatic disease and how to target it." If the team can determine all possible genetic mutations and study a cohort of samples, they can identify the common mutations and determine which mutation is in fact driving the spread of disease. The motivation for the project stems from a lack of understanding in the background mutation of tumours from primary to metastatic progression. "It is imperative to understand metastases and this is an area that has not been well researched
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Contact: Jennifer Boon
jboon@genomebc.ca
778-327-8374
Genome BC
Source:Eurekalert

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