A molecular map of childhood tumors: PedPanCan

Diversity of childhood cancers

Cure rates for childhood cancer have increased to about 80 Percent in recent decades. However, a large proportion of the surviving children suffer from severe long-term side effects after surgery, cytotoxic chemotherapy and radiation therapies, including mental disabilities and secondary cancers.

Developing more specific therapies with less long-term side effects is thus of paramount importance.

One of the crucial steps in this regard is the identification of the genetic repertoire of pediatric malignancies. Thanks to the technological revolution in the field of genome sequencing, it is now possible to decode the entire genetic and epigenetic code of a tumor within a few days, thereby identifying the driving genetic anomalies within individual entities and across pediatric cancer types.

In our "Pediatric Pan Cancer" (PedPanCan) study, we examine genetic alterations in childhood cancers at multiple levels. These include the analysis of structural variations, changes in copy number and small mutations - both in a somatic and germline context. That allows the investigation of a possible druggability.

As compared to adult cancers, pediatric cancers are rare and the number of mutations is lower. Therefore, it is of particular scientific value to gain an overview of possible molecular cancer agents and potential targets for drugs and to make this overview available to science.