CHOC Joins National Pediatrics Consortium to Fight Childhood Cancer

 

Announced this week, the Cancer Institute is among 10 founding members of the Cancer MoonShot 2020 Pediatrics Consortium, the pediatric arm of a collaborative initiative launched earlier this year involving academic institutions, insurers and pharmaceutical companies working to create a new paradigm in cancer treatment. Cancer MoonShot 2020 aims to initiate randomized Phase II trials in 20,000 patients with 20 tumor types of all stages within three years. Those findings would inform Phase III trials and the development of a vaccine-based immunotherapy by the year 2020.

Moonshot 2020’s Quantitative Integrative Lifelong Trial (QUILT) program will allow Pediatrics Consortium participants to apply the most comprehensive cancer molecular diagnostic testing available, as well as leverage proven and promising combination immunotherapies and clinical trials. Additionally, infrastructure established by MoonShot 2020 will allow for real-time data sharing to accelerate clinical learning and insight among participants.

“The Pediatric Cancer MoonShot 2020 is so visionary and, at the same time, has the capacity to disrupt the cancer health care industrial complex,” says Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the Cancer Institute. “The Cancer MoonShot will attempt to cure all the numerous types of pediatric cancers with the least toxicity by harnessing the patients’ own immune systems and using the tumors’ unique genomic mutations to create individualized cancer vaccines.”

The work to be accelerated by Cancer MoonShot dovetails with existing efforts around genomic sequencing, precision medicine, bioinformatics and research at CHOC’s Cancer Institute. CHOC has been named a Caris Center of Excellence for its commitment to precision medicine, and participates in the California Kids Cancer Comparison, which brings big data bioinformatics to patients. CHOC has also recently enrolled its first patient in a multi-center clinical study for the treatment of relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with investigational immunotherapy.

“Our Center has studied the value of whole genome sequencing for several years and has recognized the enormous value in such a test to assist in clinical decision making,” Dr. Sender says. “Now with the availability of the next evolution of molecular diagnostics from the genome to the proteome, we are excited by the acceleration of knowledge that this system will provide and are honored to be a founding member of such an important initiative.”

20140916_2712The formation of the Cancer Moonshot 2020 Pediatrics Consortium was shaped by three underlying drivers:

  1. Treatment of cancer – a heterogeneous disease shaped by multiple variables – requires a more personalized and precise approach. The Pediatrics Consortium will lead and use next-generation precision clinical genomic-proteomics enabling doctors and patients to get the most comprehensive molecular diagnosis in the market.
  2. The collaboration across industry and the medical and scientific community, as well as whole genomic and proteomic sequencing and clinical trials established under Cancer MoonShot, will help reduce barriers in the battle against pediatric cancer.
  3. The benefits afforded by a real-time data sharing infrastructure established by Cancer MoonShot 2020, combined with multiple participation from pharmaceutical companies, have not previously been available to individual pediatric cancer centers.

In addition to CHOC, the other founding members of the Consortium are Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC; Duke Department of Pediatrics – Duke University School of Medicine;  Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center; Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital; Phoenix Children’s Hospital; and Sanford Health.

 

 

Impact of Precision Medicine on Oncology Field

Precision medicine is changing how physicians think about treatments, with great advances coming out of the oncology field.  In podcast No. 42, three CHOC experts and speakers at the upcoming Peds2040 conference, Dr. Anthony Chang, Dr. Leonard Sender and Spyro Mousses, Ph.D., discuss exciting developments impacting patients today and offering tremendous hope for the future.

Dr. Sender, medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC, is determined to find a cure for cancer and prevent or reduce the toxicity associated with treatments.  Under his leadership, CHOC has programs in place that bring together big data, bioinformatics and genomic sequencing.  In addition to discussing what CHOC is currently doing, he and Dr. Mousses, whose interested include artificial intelligence, share plans for the near future, including offering very complex molecular profiles in collaboration with multiple specialists and institutions, including hospitals and bioinformatics companies from across the nation.

To hear more from these three thought leaders, listen to episode No. 42:

CHOC Radio theme music by Pat Jacobs.

Fertility Preservation ‘Central’ to Health, Wellness of AYA Patients

Oncology providers administer treatment to approximately 70,000 adolescentFertility Preservation Oncology and young adult patients (AYA) each year in the United States, three CHOC Children’s oncology staff members write in HemOnc Today.

Fertility preservation is central to the health and wellness of this population, defined as those aged 15 to 39 years.

As such, it is of great importance to distinguish which patients are at risk for infertility, understand what options — both established and experimental — are available to preserve fertility, and know how to advocate for and educate our patients about those options.

The focus of this article is on AYA patients with cancer, as this population is the most likely to be fertile. However, we understand and appreciate that women and men aged 40 years or older may desire to have a family following their cancer diagnosis and, if this is the case, the same options discussed below may be applicable to these patients.

The desire to have a family is prevalent in young cancer survivors. However, many patients may not raise the topic of fertility preservation at the time of diagnosis for a variety of reasons. They may be overwhelmed by and focused exclusively on the cancer diagnosis. They could be unaware that potential fertility loss may occur, or they might be concerned that pursuing fertility preservation will delay treatment.

Therefore, it is incumbent on the oncology team to properly educate patients whose fertility may be affected by their treatment.

Read the rest of this article from Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Center at CHOC Children’s; Julie Messina, an oncology physician assistant; and Keri Zabokrtsky, research program supervisor at the Hyundai Cancer Genomics Center, in HemOnc Today.

 

Conference Tackles Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

SAYAO-LogoIn a contrast to its inaugural year, the 2014 Society of Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO) Conference focused entirely on a specific type of cancer: acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Instead of again focusing on general psychosocial aspects of cancer treatments in the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population, this year’s approach allowed attendees to explore survivorship disparities between adult patients and the AYA population, Dr. Leonard Sender, SAYAO founder and medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, told “The Huffington Post.”

Held Oct. 6 through 8 at UC Irvine, “Breaking Barriers in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia” drew about 250 attendees, including 60 speakers and delegates. For more coverage of the conference, as well as a video, read “The Huffington Post” article.

The 2013 conference covered general psychosocial aspects of cancer treatment in adolescents and young adults. Read an in-depth summary of the 2013 conference, including links to its coverage on “The Huffington Post.”

Learn more about SAYAO.

World’s First “Infusionarium” Comes to CHOC Children’s

Any parent who’s ever tried to get the attention of a child engrossed in a video game or movie can certainly appreciate the concept. Our new, multi-screen “Infusionarium” is an innovative video experience offering a welcome distraction for young patients undergoing treatments that often last for hours.

The CHOC Children’s Infusionarium is the first program of its kind to combine immersive video technology with life-saving infusion therapy, such as chemotherapy or IV antibiotics. Located inside The Dhont Family Foundation Outpatient Infusion Center (OPI) at CHOC Children’s, the jumbo screens and fabric-draped interior look more like a deluxe home theater than a hospital treatment room. CHOC Infsuionarium

Each patient chair is equipped with a laptop, headphones and wireless keyboard. Up to four patients, age 2 or older, may play at a time, together across four screens or individually. Patients may choose from an extensive menu of video options:

  • Watch popular movies
  • Play favorite Xbox video games
  • Skype with friends
  • Take “live” virtual tours, including the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Surf the Internet, watch YouTube videos
  • Check email
  • Listen to music or podcasts using high-end, noise-canceling headphones

Parents may also use the Infusionarium to watch educational videos.

Therapy for Chemotherapy

The soothing space and mental distraction may help reduce the physical side effects of chemotherapy.

“One patient used to dread coming in for treatments due to intense bouts of nausea that required multiple medications,” said Leonard Sender, M.D. medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s. “Today, when he undergoes treatment within the Infusionarium, he doesn’t even use anti-nausea medications.” Plans are underway to formally evaluate all possible patient benefits.

The Infusionarium was developed for CHOC by My Bridge 4 Life, a company that uses emerging technologies and digital media to create “immersive healing environments.” Founders Roger Holzberg and Allison Mills collaborated with Dr. Sender to launch a “pop-up” pilot Infusionarium at CHOC last summer. The results were so encouraging that CHOC moved forward with the new pod inside the OPI. Funding was made possible by proceeds from the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K Run/Walk.

Read more in The New York Times.

Learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.