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Schachar Lab

N-PhenoGENICS

Principal Investigator: Shinya Ito

Co-Principal Investigators: Russell Schachar, Sharon Guger , Johann Hitzler, Deborah O'Connor, Brenda Spiegler, Rosanna Weksberg

Co-Investigator:  Bruce Carlton

Sponsors:

Many researchers are dedicated to furthering our understanding of the biology of cancer. It is the result of their hard work and dedication that cancer survivor rates have dramatically improved in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, effective treatment like chemotherapy has a long-lasting impact on individuals, leaving some to seriously struggle in school. Studying these long-term effects of cancer treatment can help researchers devise effective approaches to correct them as well as develop safer therapies for newly diagnosed children. This research could lead to ways to identify patients who are most vulnerable to the negative, long-term impacts of chemotherapy and who may benefit from treatments tailored to their genetic-makeup. This would reduce the burden of long-term care associated with functional impairments due to chemotherapy exposure.

The name of this research study, “N-PhenoGENICS,” stands for the study’s full name: "Neurocognitive-Phenome, Genome, Epigenome and Nutriome In Childhood Leukemia Survivors."

Side effects of acute lymphoblastic leukemia treatment may occur in many organs including the brain. Patients experiencing side effects involving the brain may have difficulties with concentrating and with their school subjects even after the treatment ends. These seem to be common consequences of the treatment and can be debilitating because the outcome of their academic and social difficulties may affect the child’s potential. These symptoms may vary from more to less severe among patients.

Almost 25 per cent of childhood leukemia survivors who received chemotherapy have signs of these central nervous system side effects. In this research study, we refer to these side effects as TRANCE (Treatment-Related late Adverse Neuro-Cognitive Effects). The reasons for the appearance of the TRANCE side effects are not known. We think that the severity of the side effect depends on differences in patients’ genes, which carry information that helps make us who we are and environmental factors, such as what food we eat. If we identify the genes and the environmental factors, then we may be able to come up with a plan for treatment and prevention of these brain side effects and possibly improve the quality of life after diagnosis and treatment.

For more information on N-PhenoGENICS, please visit the N-PhenoGENICS website.