Hudson Precision Medicine Program

Innovation in Childhood Cancer

The Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program (HMPPM) utilises individual patient’s tumour cells to identify new therapeutic targets and repurpose existing targets. Research into brain cancer, central nervous system tumours and Wilm’s tumours, will lay the foundation for establishing a systematic pipeline to test and identify personalised cancer therapeutics for paediatric cancer patients with the greatest unmet clinical need.

The outcome of this $1.3 million investment by the Foundation will be proof of concept functional diagnostic screens based on each cancer’s unique genetic profile using paediatric organoid models. Successful completion of this pilot phase will lead to the integration of comprehensive molecular analysis into clinical management by guiding molecular-targeted therapeutics for cancer patients.

“Current treatment options, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can have devastating long-term health effects for childhood cancer survivors. Our aim is to develop effective, targeted treatment options specific to each child and therefore improve long-term survival.” 

Dr Peter Downie, Head of the Monash Children’s Hospital Cancer Centre said the program is key to the development of new ways to treat children with cancer. 

“What I’d like to be able to say one day to parents of children diagnosed with cancer, is that personalised treatment will cure their child, with minimal side effects.” Dr Downie said. 

“The Children’s Cancer Foundation is proud to fund this innovative program through our research grants. We hope that one day children and adolescents with cancer across Australia will ultimately benefit from this research program,” said Aileen Boyd-Squires, Chief Executive of the Children’s Cancer Foundation (2012-2019).

What is precision cancer medicine?

Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genetic data, and other unique personalised information.

Before precision cancer medicine, patients with a specific type and stage of cancer received a ‘one size fits all’ treatment. However, certain treatments work better for some patients than for others, and some patients require lower dosages of these toxic drugs, meaning less potentially debilitating side effects.

Precision cancer medicine involves testing genetic material from patient’s tumours to identify the mutations or other changes that drive their cancer. Scientists and clinicians then use this information to identify therapies that are targeted for the individual patient and their specific sub-type of cancer.

Precision medicine has the potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery, by improving treatment effectiveness as well as sparing patients the costs and side-effects of therapies from which they would not benefit, based on their individual profile.

This is particularly important for children with cancer who will live with the side effects of their treatment for the rest of their lives.

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