The ACRF Child Cancer Liquid Biopsy Program

  • Research Institute: Children's Cancer Institute of Australia

  • Amount granted: $3.5 million

  • Year granted: 2019

A grant of $3.5 Million has been awarded to Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) in Sydney, NSW. This is the third grant provided from ACRF to the Institute and it will be used to establish The ACRF Child Cancer Liquid Biopsy Program. Each year in Australia over 950 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer. This program will focus on those children diagnosed with high-risk cancers.

Currently, children with cancer must endure tumour biopsy– a painful and invasive procedure that provides limited information about the different types of cancer cells in the tumour at a point in time. Although cancer cells in a tumour constantly change, repeated biopsies to monitor tumour progression are not a feasible or ethical option. The ACRF Child Cancer Liquid Biopsy program will address this challenge by developing a more sensitive and much less invasive type of sampling, based on a child’s blood or lymph fluid.

The program will harness the latest technologies to develop a suite of blood tests for childhood cancer patients aimed at improved diagnosis, earlier relapse detection, better monitoring of treatment response and enhanced delivery of the right treatment to the right child at the right time.

Children’s Cancer Institute’s Executive Director, Professor Michelle Haber AM says, “While the advent of personalised therapies is heralding a new era in childhood cancer treatment, the full potential of this approach is limited by remaining challenges in the ability to safely and sensitively monitor disease progression, clonal evolution, tumour heterogeneity, development of resistance and critically, the emergence of new therapeutic vulnerabilities.”

“This significant investment from ACRF to fund the ACRF Liquid Biopsy Program will ultimately enable this capability, such that all high-risk paediatric cancer patients throughout the country will be able to have their therapy optimised by genomic profiling both at the time of initial biopsy, and throughout their cancer journey; providing a clear path to improved patient outcome in the foreseeable future.”