Today, 20% of childhood cancers remain incurable and cancer kills 6 000 young people in Europe every year, making it the leading cause of disease-related death in the under-19s. Moreover, two thirds of those who survive a cancer in childhood experience long-term side effects as a result of their treatment. The challenge for scientists seeking to develop new treatments is the lack of tools to study childhood cancers, which are quite different in nature to most cancers found in adults.
The ITCC-P4 project will develop a large-scale platform comprising 400 novel research tools based on cells and tissues from patients covering 10 common childhood cancers, including neuroblastoma, high grade glioma, and osteosarcoma. The tools will allow researchers to explore the biology of paediatric cancers, identify sub-groups of patients that might respond better to certain treatments, and carry out tests on potential drugs.
Ultimately, the platform should significantly add to our understanding of childhood cancers and speed up the development of new treatments.