TORONTO, ON, April 11, 2012 /CNW/ - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced funding from the Harper Government and partners to support research that aims to protect the long-term health of childhood cancer survivors.
"Our Government is committed to ensuring that childhood cancer patients receive the most effective and appropriate treatments available to them," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Our goal is to improve the health and quality of life for children who survive cancer."
Funding from Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and six leading cancer organizations will support four new research teams: two based at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto, one based at the Child & Family Research Institute at the BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, and another one in Montreal at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center. These teams will look for ways to reduce the harmful effects of cancer treatment on children, including damage to the brain, heart and other major organs. This highly committed group of researchers all share the same goal: to improve cancer treatment for the benefit of Canadians.
CIHR has partnered with the following organizations to support this initiative: Garron Family Cancer Centre at Sick Kids, C17 Council, Canadian Cancer Society, Cancer Research Society, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario.
"As Canada's leading paediatric academic health-care centre, SickKids sees firsthand the devastating impact cancer can have on children and their families," says Mary Jo Haddad, SickKids President and CEO. "Through the funding from this important initiative, SickKids researchers can continue improving cancer treatments for Canada's children and youth that will enhance the quality of life for paediatric cancer patients."
Please see Fact Sheet for more information
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada. www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca
Background - The Health Issue
According to the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011, 6,550 children between the ages of 0-19 were diagnosed with cancer between 2003 and 2007, just one percent of the total cancer diagnoses in Canada. Although the numbers are small relative to adult cancer, 82% of these children now survive their disease, and it is estimated that more than 30,000 Canadians are now childhood cancer survivors.
Although childhood cancer is a relatively rare disease and the outcomes have improved dramatically in recent years, a large percentage of pediatric cancer patients develop multiple, serious, and sometimes fatal, health effects as a result of their cancer treatments. The list of these long-term adverse effects, or "late effects", is long and includes damage to the central nervous system, senses and major organs, such as heart, kidneys and lungs. The risk of developing second cancers is also elevated in childhood cancer survivors. It is estimated that more than 60% of survivors suffer from at least one chronic condition and almost 30% have severe or life-threatening conditions. Unfortunately the incidence and severity of these chronic conditions appears to increase over time.
Frequently these late effects are diagnosed and treated by physicians working in the adult domain, often with no prior knowledge of the previous cancer treatments. In order to prevent or mitigate the subsequent late effects, a dialogue is needed between pediatric oncologists and the clinicians in other disciplines, such as cardiology, neurology, endocrinology and oncology (for second cancers), responsible for treating survivors who experience the late effects, sometimes decades after the primary treatments.
Late Effects of Childhood Cancer Treatment -New Research Teams
To address these medical needs, the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has invested $12 million over five years to support four new research teams in partnership with the C17 council, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Cancer Research Society, Garron Family Cancer Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario.
The four successful teams are:
|Nominated Principal Investigator||Co-Principal Investigators||Title and Description of Project||Funding|
| Shinya Ito
Hospital for Sick Children
| Sharon Guger
Johann H Hitzler
Deborah L O'Connor
Russell J Schachar
| Neurocognitive-Phenome, Genome, Epigenome and Nutriome In Childhood leukemia Survivors: N-PhenoGENICS
Dr. Ito's team will study how childhood leukemia treatment affects brain function, particularly attention deficit disorder, which can remain for a long time and have an impact on children's academic performance and social activity. The team will study the factors that make some children more susceptible to this effect and explore mitigation strategies. Recent reports suggest that mutation of a gene involved in metabolism of the vitamin folate, is responsible. This study aims to discover if not only this gene but also other related genes are associated with this damage. If the responsible genes are found, the team will explore a strategy to avoid this side effect.
| Paul Nathan
Hospital For Sick Children
| Paul F. Kantor
Peter P. Liu
| Novel approaches to the prediction, diagnosis and treatment of cardiac late effects of childhood cancer.
Dr. Nathan's team will study cardiotoxicity and evaluate the importance of genetic differences between individuals in determining who is at greatest risk of developing heart disease as a result of exposure to chemotherapeutic agents. The team brings together several integrated research cores to test new imaging and biomarker methods with the ultimate aim of earlier detection of heart disease before clinical symptoms develop or it becomes apparent on standard imaging tests. Vulnerable children can then be targeted, by modifying their cancer therapy, or by introducing medications that protect the heart from chemotherapy damage.
| Kirk Schultz
Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children's Hospital and the University of British Columbia
| Sylvain Baruchel
Mary L McBride
Lesley G Mitchell
Shahrad G Rassekh
Ross T Tsuyuki
| Applying Biomarkers to Long-term Effects in Child and Adolescent Cancer Treatment (ABLE Team)
Dr. Schultz's team will assess biomarkers to identify children at risk of adverse effects of their successful cancer treatments, and to predict the course of development of their long-term complications. Identifying these high-risk children will lead to preemptive and timely therapies to minimize or eliminate these effects. Studies will focus on biomarkers associated with hearing loss, kidney failure, blood clotting problems, and a specific form of tissue rejection called chronic graft-versus host disease after hematopoietic transplantation used to treat cancer. The studies include 8 pediatric centers across Canada.
| Daniel Sinnett
Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre
| Nathalie B Alos
Gregor U Andelfinger,
| Genomic determinants of common long-term treatment effects in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivors
Dr. Sinnett's team will focus on acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most frequent cancer in children. Roughly 80% of cases can be cured with current treatment protocols. More than two-thirds of the survivors experience chronic or late-occurring health problems, often not clinically apparent until decades after treatment. The team will study ways to prevent or mitigate treatment related toxicities in a subset of the most common late-occurring adverse effects observed in childhood ALL survivors, including neurocognitive effects, metabolic syndrome, cardiotoxicity and bone morbidity.
For further information:
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Canadian Institutes of Health Research