VPCC Next Generation Precision Medicine

There is an urgent need for new and more precisely targeted medicines to treat childhood cancers. Currently, genomic sequencing is used to identify discrete mutations that could predict a child’s responses to targeted therapies. However, fewer than one in five children with cancer are found to have actionable mutations. And of those children, only half respond to the therapies that are available.

VPCC Next Generation Precision Medicine team - finding new and more precisely targeted medicines to treat childhood cancers.
Next Generation Precision Medicine team

New treatment options are needed, particularly for paediatric cancers that have the poorest survival rates such as brain and soft tissue tumours.

The Next Generation Precision Medicine Program is a flagship program of the Victorian Paediatric Cancer Consortium (VPCC) led by Hudson Institute’s Professor Ron Firestein, a clinician-scientist and the Head of the Centre for Cancer Research at Hudson Institute. The Program is focused on

  • Generating novel models of childhood cancers that faithfully represent a patient’s tumour
  • Characterising those models at a multi-omics level (genome, transcriptome, epigenome, proteome) to find what makes them unique
  • Using comprehensive functional genomic screens that can identify the genetic drivers and dependencies of low-survival paediatric cancers
  • Developing a childhood cell line atlas and data portal to enable cohort-level integrative genomic analyses.

The Childhood Cancer Model Atlas (CCMA) was created through this program. The CCMA is the largest collection of high-risk paediatric solid tumour cell lines in the world, and one of the most valuable resources available for childhood cancer scientists globally. It provides a collection of well annotated and characterised models of childhood cancer with associated functional genomics screens and includes a searchable data portal that can be accessed by scientists worldwide. Precise, detailed data like this help scientists to collaborate globally and drive clinical translation to help sick children.

Team members

Scientists | Prof Ron Firestein, Dr Xin (Claire) Sun, Dr Paul Daniel, Dr Vanessa Tsui, Monty Panday, Rajithri (Dilru) Habarakada, Dr Nicole Chew, Melissa Loi, Dr Jason Cain, Naama Neeman, Prof Bryan Williams

Collaborators | Prof David Eisenstat  – The Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, A/Prof Peter Downie  – Monash Children’s Hospital, A/Prof Sefi Rosenbluh  – Monash University, A/Prof Misty Jenkins  – WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute), A/Prof Paul Ekert – Children’s Cancer Institute, Prof Roger Daly – Monash University, Dr Pouya Faridi – Monash University 

PhD Students | Dr Nataliya Zhukova, Dr Yuqing Liang, Sarah Parackal, Dr Fatemeh Shamekhi, Flora Tourchi, Shazia Adjumain, Dasun Fernando, Samitha Amarapathy

Victorian Paediatric Cancer Consortium

The Victorian Paediatric Cancer Consortium (VPCC) brings together leading Victorian children’s hospitals, medical research institutes and universities, each with unique capabilities in paediatric cancer research and clinical care. The Consortium is co-led by Hudson Institute’s  Professor Ron Firestein and Professor David Eisenstat, The Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

VPCC enables a state-wide, multidisciplinary, and collaborative approach to combatting childhood cancers, with the goal of improving outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer through world-class medical research and innovation.

Hudson Institute is a partner in the VPCC, alongside The Royal Children’s Hospital, Monash Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Monash University, University of Melbourne, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, WEHI and the Children’s Cancer Foundation. Learn more about VPCC.

VPCC was made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of the Children’s Cancer Foundation and funding from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)