2014 Researcher Dr. Michael Taylor

"Unraveling intratumor heterogeneity in childhood medulloblastoma"

Dr. Michael Taylor; Professor, Department: Neurosurgery, Hospital for Sick Children

Dr. Michael taylor Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada research grant recipientProject Summary:

Cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death in Canadian children, and brain tumours (medulloblastoma) are the leading cause of pediatric cancer deaths. Those children who do manage to survive usually have a severely impaired quality of life due to the aggressive treatment of the disease. Thus, innovative strategies are needed to improve the quality of life for families of children with brain tumours and increase survival rates.

Development of more effective therapies specially targeting tumor cells or risk-adapted treatment strategies require a profound understanding of the biology driving brain tumour development. Several studies analyzing the tumour genome have yielded important biological insights over the past decade. However, these studies automatically assume that single biopsies are representative of the entire tumour.

Growing evidence suggests that spatially separated areas within the same tumour are biologically very heterogeneous in adult cancers. Spatial heterogeneity may preclude development of personalized, molecularly targeted therapies based on single tumour biopsies.

The proposed study will determine the degree of intratumor heterogeneity in pediatric brain tumours across the entire (epi-) genome in multiple regions of the same tumor. Our results will indicate if biological signatures are geographically stable and how representative single biopsies are of the entire tumour.

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