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Could this ‘momentous’ data dump save millions of kids from cancer?

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Consortium just made the genomic profiles of 270 tumors available to researchers everywhere. For free.

All academically qualified petitioners can access the data for free. (Video by GreenLight Stock Footage, used under a Creative Commons license)

If data is a key weapon in the global war against cancer, then a recent data release for researchers — funded by Bala Cynwyd-based nonprofit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation — could be D-Day for pediatric cancer.

To the tune of $550,000, the nonprofit funded the release of genomic data on 270 cancer tumors. The dataset spans 25 unique pediatric cancer types. The data release is done in partnership with the National Cancer Institute–backed Pediatric Preclinical Testing Consortium (PPTC).

What does this mean for pediatric cancer researchers across the globe? Basically, it will let researchers and labs skip lengthy preclinical research work and deploy more precise clinical trials in the development of new treatments against pediatric cancer.

The ALSF-funded genomic sequencing of the models was a two-year process that took place at Baylor Genome Sequencing Center in Houston under the direction of Dr. David Wheeler.

“This is momentous,” said Dr. John Maris, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who sits on ALSF’s Scientific Advisory Board and is a participating member in the Consortium. “The deep genetic profiling enabled as a result of ALSF’s funding contribution to the PPTC overcomes some major problems we have when treating childhood cancer. The data allows us to treat a genetic target, rather than the disease name.”

Per Maris, the datasets will help researchers design effective clinical trials “much more rapidly than ever before, accelerating breakthroughs and pushing us closer to cures.”

Founded in 2005, Alex’s Lemonade Stand has raised $150 million to back some 800 pediatric cancer research projects across the country. The organization was inspired by cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004), who in the year 2000 started a lemonade stand to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Alexandra’s parents, Jay and Liz Scott, continued her mission

“ALSF has a legacy of filling critical research gaps in the childhood cancer community,” said Liz Scott, co-executive director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. “Funding the PPTC’s genomics project will spark long-lasting impact, collaborative efforts and ultimately advance the pace of finding cures for all kids with cancer.”

Companies: Alex’s Lemonade Stand / Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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