Drs. David Malkin, Adam Shlien and Gino Somers (pictured left to right).
New KiCS cancer sequencing program: collaboration and innovation leading to more targeted therapies.
“Collaboration brings people together with different perspectives and areas of expertise. As a group, we can get complex projects off the ground and achieve great things,” says Dr. Gino Somers, Head of the Division of Pathology at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).
Through the collaboration of Somers, Drs. David Malkin and Adam Shlien and their teams, the SickKids Cancer Sequencing Program (KiCS) went from being an idea to an initiative about to be launched. This exciting new program is a three-year clinical research project that will enroll patients from the SickKids Haematology/Oncology and Cancer Genetics programs. KiCS brings together experts in haematology/oncology, pathology, bioinformatics, genetics, genomic research, and genetic counselling. They will use Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to determine the genetic profiles of tumours, which will help clinicians identify the best individualized treatment options for children with cancer, including patients with the most challenging cancers at diagnosis and those who have experienced a relapse. Precise diagnosis and genetic stratification of these children’s own tumours will inform decisions about their care, identify patients who are genetically predisposed to cancer, and identify potential avenues to innovative experimental therapies.
“Thanks to new sequencing technologies, and clever algorithms, we can begin to get a complete picture of each tumour’s genome. This is a faster and more comprehensive way of understanding what makes each cancer tick,’” says Shlien, Associate Director of Translational Genetics at SickKids. Launching the KiCS program now is the first step in establishing a system that would eventually become a routine part of the care available to all cancer patients at SickKids.
“In paediatric oncology, we are constantly looking to develop better treatment protocols for children with cancer and to do so while also reducing toxicity and morbidity,” says Malkin, Senior Staff Oncologist and Senior Scientist at SickKids. “Tumour and paired normal tissue/blood sequencing has the potential to revolutionize how we care for our patients.”
These same sequencing efforts will also advance cancer research by providing new knowledge about the molecular profile of cancers. With this information, researchers can study how better to manipulate and kill the cancer cells or stop them from growing and spreading. These findings will have the potential to lead to even further improved health outcomes for children and the adults they will become.
“KiCS is a prime example of the strength of collaboration between individuals from various clinical and research teams. We hope this program becomes a tool that helps children lead healthier and happier lives,” says Somers.
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