Canadian researchers team up to find a cure to childhood cancer

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Finding a cure to childhood cancer
WATCH: Researchers at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Sainte-Justine, are taking part in a $16-million initiative to accelerate research breakthroughs in pediatric cancer treatment to hopefully find a cure. Global's Amanda Jelowicki reports – Nov 23, 2017

Joshua Rothman, 11, was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was just a baby.

He’s grown up getting treatment and enduring countless hours of chemotherapy at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

“It’s kind of my second home, I guess,” he told Global News.

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Recently, he’s started getting targeted precision therapy to treat the tumor; he takes a pill and can even go to school after.

The groundbreaking initiative may soon be available to sick children across Canada.

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Thursday, researchers at the Children’s and Sainte-Justine Hospital announced they are taking part in a $16.4-million initiative to accelerate research breakthroughs in pediatric cancer treatment to hopefully find a cure.

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The program is called Terry Fox PROFYLE (profile), or Precision Oncology for Young People, which is a collaboration of 20 Canadian research partners, pediatric cancer researchers, funding groups and the Terry Fox Research Institute.

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“If we put our efforts together, if we understand better the tumor, its genetic make-up, we can come up with solutions,” said Dr. Nada Jabado, one of the lead researchers with the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

“We have seen already that some targeted therapy is making a big difference for patients.”

She says collaborative, precision medicine could treat the 20 per cent of young cancer patients who have run out of conventional treatment options.

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In a statement, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) said a quarter of the funding will come from Quebec.

“In Canada, cancer remains the leading cause of illness-related death in children,” said the MUHC.

Researchers will sequence tumours at the molecular level to amass information that is then analyzed at one of three labs in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

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The aim is to be able to create personalized treatment for patients with tumours that are difficult to treat with conventional therapy — no matter where they live in Canada.

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Forty people are already involved in the study and have had their tumours sequenced.

— with files from Global’s Amanda Jelowicki and The Canadian Press.

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