February 15th is International Childhood Cancer Day to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors, and their families. One thousand kids under the age of 14 are diagnosed with cancer each year in Canada, and it is the most common disease-related death for children and adolescents.
Here at CHRIM, our researchers are working tirelessly to gain knowledge and advance the current evidence of what we know about cancer prevention strategies and treatments.
Dr. Cedric Tremblay is studying leukemia, the most common cancer in children. His research aims to understand why leukemia returns in some children and how leukemia cells can “hide” from the immune system. Dr. Tremblay’s lab focuses on t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also called “T-ALL” which is an aggressive form of blood cancer representing 1 out of 4 cases of childhood acute leukemia. Most children who experience T-ALL can be cured with chemotherapy, however treatment can also come at a cost with patients experiencing life-long complications that can significantly impair their quality of life.
Currently, Dr. Tremblay is working with an international team of experts from Australia to develop a new drug that can starve tumors, so they disappear.
Another CHRIM investigator, Dr. Cielle Stapleton is also focusing her research on pediatric cancer and improving the lives of children and families who experience the disease. Her research is focused on learning more about the genetics of cancer to allow for diagnosis and treatment with targeted therapies. Working with a team at CancerCare Manitoba, they are establishing a biobank – a storage bank of samples for future use – to store children’s leukemia samples. This will help to promote children’s cancer research within Manitoba and allow for collaborations across the country.