The Sohn Conference Foundation funds research to advance understanding of how pediatric cancer metastasizes

The Sohn Conference Foundation made a grant to researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to advance understanding of how pediatric cancer metastasizes

The Sohn Conference Foundation today unveiled the Sohn Collaborative for Liquid Biopsy at Weill Cornell Medicine to develop a blood test that will predict how cancer spreads in both children and adults. Funded by a $600,000 grant from the Sohn Conference Foundation, the Sohn Collaborative Liquid Biopsy at Weill Cornell Medicine will investigate the biological markers that determine whether cancer will spread and to which organs. This will have a critical impact in helping clinicians prevent and manage relapse at distant sites, which is the cause of some of the highest risk cancers in children.

“The promise of this research is that a simple blood test could let parents know at the earliest possible time if their child’s cancer would return and where,” said Evan Sohn, Vice President of the Sohn Conference Foundation. “Their children would no longer have to undergo invasive monitoring tests or learn far too late for effective treatment that their child’s cancer had returned. Our Foundation is proud to fund this research for more targeted, life-saving treatments.”  

The Sohn Collaborative Liquid Biopsy at Weill Cornell Medicine examines high-risk aggressive cancers by investigating exosomes, which are “packages” bound by membranes that are shed from pediatric cancer tumors into body fluids and circulate through the body. Exosomes bear specific biological macromolecules including proteins, lipids and DNA that could be used to diagnose the spread and aggressiveness of the cancer.

Dr. David Lyden is the Stavros S. Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Cardiology and a professor of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine. He also serves on the Scientific Review Counsel of Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance. Dr. Lyden will be studying the exosomes released by the primary tumor and those from a matched blood sample to investigate how these exosomes act as messengers between tumor and the organs which the tumor will spread to. Dr. Lyden’s investigation aims to identify sets of biomarkers that can be predictive of future metastasis.

“The support of the Sohn Conference Foundation will advance our research to comprehensively characterize the molecular information carried by the exosomes shed from different types of pediatric cancer tumors, and such knowledge is essential for future study to identify new biomarkers and targeted therapies for pediatric cancer patients to provide better treatment options,” Dr. Lyden said.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) will be collaborating with Weill Cornell Medicine to provide comprehensive genome sequencing of pediatric cancer patients in this study.

Dr. Michael Berger, associate director of the Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology at MSK will be providing the diagnostic testing for genomic analysis as part of the MSK-IMPACT (Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets) platform.

“The MSK-IMPACT test provides a rich source of information about the genetic mutations of a patient’s disease, which can enable clinicians to evaluate the potential of tumor metastasis and to guide the therapeutic and treatment decisions for their patients,” said Dr. Berger.

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