A multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians at Sidra Medicine, have launched a paediatric cancer biorepository pilot to develop personalised cancer therapies for patients.
Led by Dr Wouter Hendrickx, principal investigator (PI) of the Paediatric Cancer Omics Lab and the Lead PI of the pilot, in close collaboration with Dr William Mifsud, attending physician from Sidra Medicine’s Anatomic Pathology division, the biorepository is an integrated system that will collect patient samples and match complex data with clinical information.
Dr Hendrickx said: “Personalised medicine is transitioning away from a ‘one size fits all’ treatment approach towards a more advanced and detailed version, to better manage patients’ health. This not only helps manage the disease but also offers the best outcomes. The development of the biorepository pilot is a true showcase of how our research, pathology, patient care services have collaborated to offer the possibility for each paediatric cancer patient to have their malignancy investigated in the most advanced way available.”
Cancer precision oncology involves the molecular profiling of a patient’s cancerous tissues. Major advances in the technologies for characterising patients’ genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and cellular profiles have allowed tailoring treatment strategies to precisely target the molecular alteration underlying each individual patients’ disease.
“This pilot will result in a collection of data that will enable us, in the short term, to advice clinical grade diagnostics of rare targetable somatic mutations and facilitate patient enrollment in clinical trials that will bring us a step closer to finding the best treatment plan. We believe that in the long term, this project will pave the way for personalised precision medicine for each paediatric cancer patient in Qatar. Sidra Medicine aims to work closely with Qatar BioBank to make this repository a success,” said Dr Hendrickx.
The biorepository is a joint effort from Sidra Medicine’s research and clinical functions with close collaboration with the paediatric oncology department, and the Clinical Research Centre. It involves the profiling of the genetic markers of each patient’s tumours, followed by a cellular analysis which will help identify potential target for cellular therapy and non-invasive diagnostic imaging tools.
Dr Davide Bedognetti, director of Sidra Medicine’s Cancer Research Department, said: “What we do is to analyse as many parametres as possible to find the important ones that can be used to guide treatment or find novel targets. Nowadays we can study each single cell composing the tumour mass separately. This means studying both tumour cells and the immune cells of the patients.”
“With the speed at which research and medicine is evolving, new treatments are coming out in rapid succession. With February 15 acknowledged as International Childhood Cancer day, we firmly believe that this pilot is a step in the right direction towards Sidra Medicine’s precision medicine programme,” said Dr Bedognetti.
Upon diagnosis of a malignancy, paediatric oncology patients at Sidra Medicine will be offered the opportunity to participate in the pilot project and donate their cancer tissue that is no longer required for their clinical diagnosis, to the Sidra Paediatric Cancer Biorepository. The materials will then be used to investigate their disease in order to develop personalised cancer therapies.
“Our programme showcases Sidra Medicine’s vision of precision medicine for every child. We are bringing together our world-class research capabilities and advanced clinical care so that all children with cancer in Qatar can have the opportunity to have their tumours studied in unprecedented detail. By understanding the development and evolution of each tumour from every child, we may be able to target each patient’s cancer with specific and personalised therapies,” Dr Mifsud added.