The Hospital for Sick Children and the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center are conducting a whole-genome sequencing study of 1,000 pediatric brain cancer tumors.
The aim of the study is to find markers that stratify patients for treatment in clinical trials, to identify risk factors that may predispose children to this type of cancer, and to find markers associated with disease prognosis.
The project is being funded with C$9.8 million by Genome BC and other partners and is part of Genome Canada's Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition.
Pilot data from the group suggests that some children are being over-treated, and identifying markers of a good prognosis could help reduce the amount of drugs given to those children.
The team will also conduct an economic analysis as part of the project. Childhood cancers are estimated to cost Canada's health care system $100 million annually, so the study leaders will explore whether the use of sequencing to stratify patients into more effective treatment strategies could potentially help reduce that cost.
The project will "allow us to classify the disease using genomic approaches, then identify and develop lab tests … so we can start treating some kids less and the rest smarter," Michael Taylor, co-leader of the project and a pediatric neurosurgeon at Sick Kinds Hospital, said in a statement.