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About Sickkids
About SickKids

February 22, 2011

Giant strides in childhood disease research

Two teams of Canadian researchers, including five from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), were awarded with two grants of up to $2 million jointly from Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) for their work in genome sequencing of childhood diseases. Over the next several years, the teams will focus on translating next-generation sequencing technologies into improved therapies for high-risk, genetic, childhood diseases.

The Canadian Paediatric Cancer Genome Consortium partners researchers from across Canada, including SickKids Drs. David Malkin, Cynthia Hawkins, Annie Huang and Michael Taylor. This collaboration was formed to study genome sequencing in six childhood cancers in an effort to combat cancer, the most common cause of non-accidental death in children in Canada.

“Paediatric cancers are the most common cause of disease-related death in children in Canada,” said Dr. Malkin, co-leader of the team. “We hope that our research will have a lasting impact on Canadians that have been affected directly or indirectly by childhood cancer.”

The focus of their research program is on childhood cancers for which genes can be identified in a short time frame and with a small number of subjects to ensure the greatest impact. The main goal of their work is to use the newly discovered genetic information about these cancers to gain insight into targets and new therapies that may be developed for addressing these devastating diseases.

The second research team Finding of Rare Disease Genes in Canada (FORGE) includes internationally recognized SickKids scientist, Dr. Steve Scherer. Dr. Scherer is among nine other Canadian researchers on the FORGE project that brings together doctors from all genetic centres from across Canada. This project team will study more than 70 childhood genetic disorders.

The focus of their research will be to apply whole-genome resequencing of patients at three Genome Canada Science and Technology Innovation Centres (Vancouver, Montreal and The Centre for Applied Genomics at SickKids). This will allow the team to identify potential disease-causing DNA mutations. Genetic and/or biological approaches will be used to validate each novel disease-causing gene.

Both research teams will use some of the most powerful gene sequencing technologies ever developed to probe the DNA of the most challenging childhood diseases. Additionally, both will aim to translate their findings into clinical practice and translate their genetic discoveries into improved outcomes for children.

Canada’s Minister of State for Science and Technology, The Honourable Gary Goodyear presented the awards at an event Tuesday morning at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa. Dr. Malkin attended the event to accept the award on behalf of his research team. 

By: Karley Ura