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Biodesign, Phoenix Children's Partner on Pediatric Cancer Sequencing Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and Phoenix Children's Hospital will team up to use genome sequencing to study the molecular basis of desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT), a deadly pediatric cancer.

The three-year project, funded with a $250,000 grant from the non-profit Hyundai Hope on Wheels organization, will fund genome sequencing efforts at the Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the Biodesign Institute and bioinformatic analyses of pediatric DSRCT tumor samples, ASU said this week.

The partners hope to discover specific genomic aberrations that may be involved in DSRCT, an aggressive, soft tissue sarcoma that creates masses in the abdomen, bone, soft tissue regions, organs, and the nervous system, and these malignancies may metastasize and spread to other regions.

DSRCT is four times more likely to occur in males, and it also is more prevalent in African Americans than Caucasians. The exact cause of the disease is still not known, and less than 20 percent of people who are diagnosed with the disease survive more than five years.

The research will be led by Assistant Professor Valentin Dinu, a researcher at ASU, Joshua LaBaer, director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the Biodesign Institute, and Pooja Hingorani, an oncology and hematology physician at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Dinu and LaBaer will perform whole genome DNA and RNA sequencing on tumor samples and corresponding normal samples and will search for SNPs, allelic aberrations, somatic rearrangements, and base pair mutations. They expect that these variations will serve as biomarkers for the disease and may be used to develop earlier-stage or more accurate diagnostics, and as potential targets for future treatments.

The partners' research results will be cross-checked and validated using Sanger sequencing or quantitative PCR, ASU said.