An Australian-first research initiative, the Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program, hopes to significantly improve treatment for childhood cancer patients with the greatest unmet clinical need – those diagnosed with brain cancers and solid tumours.
The program is established with investment from the Children’s Cancer Foundation. In its first two years, the program will focus on brain cancer and solid tumours such as Wilms tumours, with specific emphasis on Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). DIPG is a devastating childhood brain cancer, with a median survival of only nine months.
In a collaborative program, scientists at Hudson Institute of Medical Research will establish a living biobank of paediatric brain tumours and solid cancers – including living organoids or lab-grown ‘mini-tumours’ – to trial and develop targeted treatments and improve clinical outcomes, survival rates and quality of life (limiting side-effects) for childhood cancer patients.
Innovation in the making
The Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine program marks a significant investment in future clinical management and novel research discovery in childhood cancer. The program includes
The development of a living tumour biobank for paediatric solid tumours
At present, very few reliable patient-derived preclinical models are available to researchers. To bridge this gap, our program will establish and bank organoid, cell lines, and xenograft models directly from childhood tumour tissue. The establishment of a living biobank for paediatric solid tumours will provide a critical renewable resource for local, national and international researchers.
The establishment of a functional genomics pipeline
We capitalise on the living biobank tumour samples to integrate genomic data (next generation sequencing) with functional data obtained from high-throughput genetic (Cas9/CRISPR) and results from global pharmacological drug screens.
Translation of genomic data into targeted therapy
The comprehensive molecular analysis of individual patient tumours will help identify both new and existing therapies that can be rapidly implemented in the clinic. This approach will facilitate clinical implications of data from the functional genomics pipeline for individual paediatric patients.
Unique national and global collaborations
The establishment of a living biobank and functional genomic testing for paediatric solid tumours provides a critical resource for local, national and international researchers. Thus, a key element of the program includes national and international stakeholders’ involvement to build expertise, share resources and disseminate results that will advance the field of precision medicine for paediatric cancer patients For more information see the Affiliations and Partners section below.
A/Prof Ron Firestein
Head of Research and Chief Investigator
Dr Peter Downie
Head of Clinical Enterprise and Chief Investigator
Prof Bryan Williams
Ms Naama Neeman
Head of Operations, Cancer Research Foundation
Dr Jason Cain
Dr Daniel Gough
A/Prof Sefi Rosenbluh
A/Prof Elizabeth Algar
A/Prof Helen Abud
A/Prof Paul Wood
Dr Dhanya Sooraj
Children’s Cancer Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Ms Hui Kheng Chua
Children’s Cancer Foundation Organoid Specialist
Ms Caroline Drinkwater
Children’s Cancer Foundation Biobank Specialist
Ms Steph Forman
Personal Assistant to A/Prof Ron Firestein
Affiliations and partners
Monash Children’s Hospital
The Royal Children’s Hospital
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
The Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program is made possible thanks to generous and exclusive funding from the Children’s Cancer Foundation: childrenscancerfoundation.com.au
Head of Operations
Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program, Children’s Cancer Foundation