On November 2, the Canadian Cancer Society held an event in Montréal to announce funding to various organizations in support of the Pediatric Cancer Research Initiative. The National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Human Health Therapeutics (HHT) Research Centre was awarded a $1.66 million grant to conduct research, in collaboration with Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Centre (SJUHC) and Jenthera Therapeutics, on pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
This research project, led by HHT's research officer Dr. Richard Marcotte, started at the beginning of September 2022 and aims to develop a new therapeutic product to improve treatment outcomes for children battling ALL.
"This funding represents a great opportunity to translate some of our basic scientific findings to the clinic, with the hope that it will ultimately help treat children diagnosed with this terrible disease," says Dr. Marcotte.
ALL is the most frequent cancer diagnosed in children, representing nearly 85% of all childhood leukemia diagnoses. The new treatment being developed could help treat the 10 to 15% of patients who don't respond or relapse following their initial treatment. Dr. Marcotte and his team hope the new treatment will improve the prognosis for these patients, who typically have a low 5-year life expectancy.
While the current treatment strategies available for ALL patients are relatively effective, the chemotherapeutic drugs available have severe side effects. Children who survive ALL can suffer from long-term debilitating, or even life-threatening treatment-related conditions. Developing a more specific targeted treatment like the one our researchers are working on could potentially alleviate some of these long-term impacts.
This new project is part of the NRC and SJUHC's collaboration centre (NRC-CHU Sainte-Justine Collaborative Unit for Translational Research), which aims to combine and synergize expertise and technologies to accelerate translation of discoveries to the patient by improving diagnostics, discovering innovative treatments and modernizing clinical analytics.