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According to Dr. Lisa Diller, an internationally recognized leader in childhood cancer, published pediatric oncologist at the Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Care, and Soupy for Loopy Foundation’s Medical Advisor, “One of the things that is most pressing is figuring out which children with neuroblastoma will respond to “up front” therapies that we currently use, and which need to try more experimental therapies (the cure rate for high risk neuroblastoma is about 50% but we still don’t know (until it happens) who are the ones at risk for relapse). For this, we need to develop improved testing methods to predict those patients with neuroblastoma for whom current therapy will be inadequate. We have a clue about this, in that biologic markers might be available that would allow us to do this prediction.”
Dr. Shahab Asgharzadeh, a physician-scientist with expertise in neuroblastoma genomics, and colleagues at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, University of Southern California have developed a model designed to identify biologic markers that are measurable in tumor tissue at or near the time of diagnosis to aid in risk classification among patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. These investigators used tumor samples collected from patients who were treated on COG studies and have demonstrated that those patients whose tumors express a certain pattern of genes (a 14-gene “signature”) have a significantly higher risk for recurrence and death from neuroblastoma.
The Children’s Oncology Group intends to implement this molecular profiling for use as part of treatment assignment for all children nationally with high risk neuroblastoma. To accomplish this goal, we must first determine whether the 14-gene molecular profiling of neuroblastoma tumors obtained at the time of diagnosis in patients with high-risk neuroblastoma can be performed within 6-8 weeks of diagnosis, thereby allowing alteration in therapy for those with an unfavorable genetic profile.
Funds from Soupy for Loopy will be used to “procure the samples, do the gene testing, and test the hypothesis that with quick ‘turnaround’ we can identify patients at high risk for relapse and change or add to their therapy. […] This amount of money lets us get closer to an answer we could not otherwise get” said Dr. Diller.