Children’s Cancer Institute

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Every year around 1000 Australian children and adolescents will be diagnosed with cancer. Today, thanks to research, the survival rate for childhood cancer has risen to 80 per cent. However, nearly three children are still dying from cancer every week. This is three too many. Children’s Cancer Institute exists to save the lives of all children suffering from cancer and to improve their long-term health through research. This vision is built on the very foundations of the Institute.

In 1975, fathers Jack Kasses and John Lough both had children being treated at Sydney Children’s Hospital for leukaemia. Doctors were doing everything in their power to care for the children, but a lack of research meant that only half were cured with the available treatments. After the loss of his son, John Lough and the Apex Club in Wollongong lead a national effort in the “Help a Kid Make It” campaign. Having raised $1 million to facilitate research into childhood cancer, the two fathers founded Children’s Cancer Institute and the first dedicated labs opened in 1984. For more information on their story, visit here: https://ccia.org.au/home/our-purpose/our-story/

The Institute has grown to now employ nearly 300 researchers, operational staff and students, and has established a national and international reputation for scientific excellence. As the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to childhood cancer, Children’s Cancer Institute is invaluable to Luminesce Alliance. Their state-of-the-art labs, found in the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW, is fully equipped for molecular and genetic research studies and include facilities for banking of human tumour specimens, fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), microscopy, live cell imaging, proteomic analysis and real-time PCR analysis. For more information on the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, visit here: https://lowycancerresearchcentre.unsw.edu.au/

One of Children’s Cancer Institute’s most important initiatives is the Zero Childhood Cancer Program, a joint initiative with Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, a Luminesce Alliance member. Zero Childhood Cancer is Australia’s most comprehensive personalised medicine program for children with aggressive cancer and includes a national and international network of partners consisting of eight hospitals and twenty-two research institutes. Through the Institute’s Zero Childhood Cancer Program, Luminesce Alliance’s researchers have a preexisting network and analysis pipeline to underpin the Precision Medicine project. For more information on the Zero Childhood Cancer Program, visit here: http://www.zerochildhoodcancer.org.au

Part of the research into Precision Medicine is the development of a computational biology program that will allow the study of a huge cross section of medical and scientific data to personalise and improve patient treatment. Key to this is Children’s Cancer Institute’s Computational Biology Group, led by Associate Professor Mark Cowley. This group leverages the enormous amount of data being generated through new technology such as genetic sequencing to develop methods that can improve treatments in the clinic. For more information on the Computational Biology Group, visit here: https://ccia.org.au/home/research-overview/understanding-childhood-cancer/computational-biology/