Cancer Research for Children

Project location: Italy
Project start date: January 2005 - Project end date: This project covers various years
Project number: 2005-13
Beneficiary: AIRC - Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro

Inter-regional Pediatric Project: Identification of genes related to aggressiveness and poor-response in CNS tumors and leukemia in infancy; Comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for intracranial pediatric ependymoma

Embryonal Central Nervous System (CNS) tumors such as Medulloblastoma and Ependymoma, and infant Leukemia are poorly studied either for technical difficulties or because their rarity. Childhood tumors of the CNS are the most frequently observed solid pediatric neoplasms, with the highest incidence in the first decade of life. They can be devastating because they are difficult to treat, and frequently cause mental impairment or death. The factors responsible for the initiation and progression are still poorly understood and characterized. Although infant Leukemia accounts only for 1-2% of leukemia in children, it is the second most common malignancy in the first year of life. The overall outcome infant Leukemia is still dismal; thus, better therapeutic options and preventative strategies are needed. Given the emphasis on children's health, the main goal of the project, to reach in 3 years information needed to improve the therapeutical strategies today available, falls within the main areas and programs supported by the Nando Peretti Foundation.

The above mentioned pathologies have been selected for the AIRC inter-regional pediatric project with the following aims: to define new targets for better diagnosis and prognosis; to identify new pathways and targeted treatments. The groups involved in the studies have a well established experience of multidisciplinary co-operation in the field of pediatric neuro-oncology in Italy within the Italian Association of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (AIEOP). The cooperative work among outstanding oncologic and pediatric institutions (Istituto Nazionale Tumori and Istituto Neurologico Besta, Milano; Istituto G. Gaslini, Genova; Università di Padova; Università di Torino; Istituto Eugenio Medea, Bosisio Parini, CEINGE, Napoli; Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Genova; Ospedale San Gerardo, Monza; Università di Catania) dealing with pediatric tumors represents an unprecedented effort, that - by focussing on the identification of the genetic basis that are responsible for the tumors' development and progression - will translate the experimental results into therapies targeted to the genetic defects discovered during the study.

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