The overall premise of my research is that a greater understanding of how childhood cancer cells respond to extra- or intracellular signals is necessary to identify tumour-specific pathways. Only then can these pathways be targeted therapeutically in a manner that minimizes effects on normal cells. This is especially important in childhood cancer to avoid toxic effects of treatments on the intellectual, physical, and emotional development of a growing child. An ongoing difficulty with this approach is how to find the relevant pathways to target. Over the years, we have chosen to characterize recurrent genetic alterations in childhood tumours as a means to more efficiently identify novel cancer genes. This is part of our belief that analysis of primary tumours is preferable for initial identification of pathophysiologically relevant alterations in human malignancies. With the advent of next-generation sequencing, we are now extending this approach to whole genome sequencing of childhood cancers to better understand the mutational landscape of these tumours. Then, once the involved proteins have been identified, model systems can be invoked to further study their biology and how the pathways they are involved in become activated. We then use various biochemical approaches as well as high-throughput platforms such as RNA interference screening to rigorously characterize the involved proteins, their functional interactors, and the signal transduction pathways they participate in. This forms the basis for subsequent strategies to therapeutically target candidate proteins in childhood cancers.
Liheng (Amy) Li
Xiaojun (June) Li
Renata Scopim Ribeiro
High-risk pediatric cancers remain the leading cause of mortality in childhood, and current standard approaches to treat pediatric cancers frequently induce unacceptable life-long morbidity. This multi-center collaborative effort focuses on identifying and understanding the fundamental mechanisms leading to high-risk childhood cancers, including how these malignancies evolve to evade the immune system and resist modern therapies.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation – SU2C Pediatric Cancer Dream Team is a collaboration between pediatric cancer researchers in the largely disparate disciplines of cancer genomics and immunotherapeutics. The team will focus on developing new, targeted immunotherapeutics for the most difficult-to-cure childhood cancers.
BC Cancer Foundation is the fundraising partner of BC Cancer, which includes BC Cancer Research. Together with our donors, we are changing cancer outcomes for British Columbians by funding innovative research and personalized treatment and care.