November 2013 research report

CIKA is committed to providing funding for research into solid tumours

November 2013 research report - Cancer in Kids @ RCH - CIKA

Research Update, November 2013

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) and Children’s Cancer Centre (CCC) at the Royal Children’s Hospital are extremely grateful for the support of CIKA in assisting our efforts to understand the mechanisms underlying childhood cancer. Our team of clinicians and researchers have several aims. Firstly, to discover the triggers (including environmental factors and genes) that lead to cancer development. Secondly, to understand why some children respond well to treatment and have a full cure, while others don't. Finally, to discover why some children have a very toxic response to treatment.

There is now a general consensus that addressing these questions requires the detailed investigation of a large number of individual tumours. In the case of childhood tumours this means the need to study tissue samples removed from patients as part of their normal course of clinical investigation and treatment.

The CCC at the Royal Children's Hospital is the largest centre for the treatment of paediatric cancers in Australia, which provides a unique opportunity to access rare solid and liquid tumours from paediatric patients. The CCC tissue bank is one of only three paediatric tumour tissue banks in Australia and is a collection of solid tumour tissue, bone marrow, blood and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) preserved for use in future research. The samples, which can be stored indefinitely in ultra-cold freezers or in liquid nitrogen, are considered incredibly precious.

The objective of the CCC tissue bank is to assemble a collection of human biological materials linked to relevant health information for clinical investigation and ethically approved research. This involves working in collaboration with pathologists, oncologists, surgeons and other hospital personnel, to obtain patient consent, to collect samples and to gather associated clinical information about each participant and their corresponding specimens. The CCC tissue bank facilitates the supply of tissue samples to promote translation of biomedical research into advances in health care and personalised medicine.

The CCC tissue tank was established in 2006 and currently holds over two hundred solid tumour specimens in the form of tissue blocks and cryopreserved cell suspensions, the majority of which are held in frozen storage in a controlled and secure facility within the MCRI. Application is currently being made to access many thousands of archived formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue blocks stored in Anatomical Pathology at The Royal Children's Hospital.

Meet Tissue Bank Coordinator Louise Ludlow

Dr Louise Ludlow commenced as the Children’s Cancer Centre Tissue Bank Coordinator in August 2013.

Due to variations in consent forms for tumours collected since the 1950’s our researchers have, in some respects, been restricted in their ability to utilise many of the stored tumours for research purposes. One of Louise’s first goals has been to attempt to overcome these obstacles, initially through the development of a new Participant Information Statement and Consent Form to allow tissue collection to ensure optimal utilisation of tissue collected now and into the future. These newly developed materials were part of the Tissue Bank ethics application which was submitted on the 9th October and is currently under review by the Royal Children’s Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee A further application has been prepared which seeks to lift some of the current restrictions of utilisation of the thousands of solid tumour specimens current held in storage.

Dr Ludlow has been invited to give an oral presentation at the Australasian Biospecimens Network Association conference in Melbourne on the 15th November. This will assist in networking with other tissue banks and provide the opportunity to increase the profile of the Children’s Cancer Centre tissue bank.

Looking ahead to 2014

Many CIKA supporters will be familiar with the cancer research laboratories which were housed in the new wing of the old Royal Children's Hospital on level 6. You may be surprised to learn this laboratory space remains intact and can now be accessed by airbridge from the 5th Floor of the new Royal Childrens Hospital. Early this month laboratories were cleared for use and the solid tumour research staff are preparing the laboratory area and optimising tissue processing procedures in preparation for operation in 2014 - it is good to be back!

In summary, it has been a busy few months for the team and we are well poised for a productive start to 2014. We look forward to updating CIKA supporters on the success of our ethics applications which will mark a new era in tissue collection and greatly enhance our research capability.

Finally, our team is dedicated to making discoveries to improve the lives of children affected by solid tumours, through generating new knowledge that will inform better diagnosis, treatment and care. This we could not do without your support. Thank you; together we can make a difference.

To read the June 2014 report, please click here.