Another way that the BCCCPA helps to fulfill it’s Mission Statement: “We help families of children with cancer” – is through the funding of research projects directly related to Pediatric Cancer.
Past Programs Funded:
Genome RESEARCH (M.A.G.I.C. Project) – 2014
Researching treatment solutions “Parents Association Rallies to Support Research” A research project looking at medulloblastoma – a form of childhood brain cancer—is underway at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre. Medulloblastomas make up 25 to 30 per cent of all childhood cancers, taking a significant toll on cancer’s youngest patients and their families.
The project is looking at the genetic diversity of eight medulloblastoma tumours, which complements a large national project called M.A.G.I.C. that has researchers analyzing the genetic make-up of 1,000 tumours.
Understanding the biological make-up of these tumours will help to inform future treatment targets for more effective patient outcomes. Dave Dunbar is on the Board of Directors for the BC Childhood Cancer Parents Assoc. (BCCCPA – www.bcccpa.org), which supported the research project with a generous $25,000 gift, and he knows all too well the devastating effects of childhood cancer. Dave’s son Quinn was diagnosed with medulloblastoma at just six years old. He endured over eight different forms of chemotherapy and after almost 7 years of treatments, Quinn passed away from the cancer.
“He was the happiest and smartest child you would ever meet,” remembers Dave, who hopes for a future where scientists and clinicians have the answers to select the most effective drugs and treatment regimens that will see affected children given the prognosis of a healthy future. He and his fellow directors want to see research move forward and save the lives of children diagnosed with medulloblastoma.
The research team hopes their study will provide insight into the genetic diversity of these cancers and identify specific markers that can more accurately classify the cancers for treatment in clinical trials.
To study medulloblastoma subtypes, Dr. Michael Taylor, a neurosurgeon at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), has formed the Medulloblastoma Advanced Genomics International Consortium (M.A.G.I.C.), which is composed of more than 50 leading pediatric neuro-oncology centers from around the world. These centers have collectively contributed over 1200 high quality frozen medulloblastomas to our tumor bank, which now is the world’s largest collection of samples.
As part of a Genome Canada funded initiative, the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (BCGSC) has teamed up with the SickKids’ MAGIC team to study the genetic complexity of pediatric medulloblastoma, to discover novel biomarkers, and to identify new drug targets by sequencing 1000 tumor samples. The genetic data is being interpreted by computational biologists to help design and implement clinical subgroup specific tests to stratify medulloblastoma patients. After less than 16 months since project launch, the Genome Canada funded MAGIC initiative has already published two important research papers  and has demonstrated its qualities and ambitions to contribute towards the understanding and care of medulloblastoma brain cancer.
March 2014 – These samples have been successfully analysed and sequenced and the MAGIC team is now on the verge of publishing a paper that is expected to have a significant impact on researchers’ understanding of medulloblastoma and the best mechanisms for treating it.
Although the results of the study cannot be disclosed in advance of the publication, (expected within the next few months) GSC researchers confirm that it will provide answers to important research questions surrounding childhood brain cancer. As well, the results may have far-reaching implications for the clinical treatment of medulloblastoma as well as other pediatric cancers.
The BC (Michael Smith) Genome Sciences Centre:
Led by Dr. Marco Marra, they’re the 1st in the world to sequence the SARS virus, and be established as a Canadian and World Leader in DNA sequencing.
$10,000.00 to Mr. Marco Marra and staff at the Genome Sciences Centre – 2009
One of BCCCPA’s mandates is to advocate for (and fund) research into childhood cancer discoveries, treatments and cures. As parents of children with cancer, we see value in research that is making a difference, as do you – our donors and readers. BCCCPA’s first major contribution was to the BC Genome Sciences Centre (BCGSC) of $10,000.00 that was matched by a “mirror” donor for a total of $20,000.00 – this, and a major contribution by The James Fund allowed the BCGSC to use their expertise in genomics & DNA sequencing “to identify therapeutic targets in high-risk Neuroblastoma”.
About the BC Genome Sciences Centre:
Led by Dr. Marco Marra, they were the 1st in the world to sequence the SARS virus, and be established as a Canadian & world leader in DNA sequencing research. New-generation sequencing technology called Illumina dramatically reduces sequencing cost while improving its throughput. This technology at BCGSC can determine the DNA sequence of all genes in a cancer cell and detect their expression levels at the same time.
Statement of Purpose of the (BCGSC):
“To identify therapeutic targets in high-risk Neuroblastoma.” The BCGSC collaborated on two projects with Neuroblastoma experts at the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto), & the Children’s Hospital’s of Philadelphia & Los Angeles. These collaborations would not have been possible without the generous donation from BCCCPA that enabled us to work on specialized Neuroblastoma research at the BCGSC.
Update of collaborations with other Centers:
Early results from our sequencing experiments found that Neuroblastoma “queen bee” cells from bone marrow metastasis of Sick Kids patients expressed Bcell markers, normally found in leukemia and lymphoma cancers. These cells are thought to escape current therapies and contribute to tumor relapse. The potential clinical impact of finding the B-cell markers is significant, since it may suggest the use of existing leukemia and lymphoma drugs for treating metastatic Neuroblastoma in children.