Originally published on Cornerstone, the CHOP Research Blog
I composed this original blog post based on an interview with the investigator and took the accompanying photo.
It is scary to learn your child has neuroblastoma, a tumor of the peripheral nervous system that is the most common cancer in infants. It is scarier still when you get test results that show your child is in the half of neuroblastoma patients whose cancer is very aggressive and high-risk. Doctors routinely test neuroblastoma tumor genes to see if there are multiple extra copies of the gene MYCN. Positive results come with that high-risk prognosis. Amplified MYCN occurs in about half of all high-risk neuroblastoma cases.
Currently, there is not a good answer for parents facing this scenario. Doctors have known about the association between amplified MYCN and poor neuroblastoma outcomes for more than 30 years, but that knowledge has not yet translated into improved, targeted treatments.
One researcher who is now trying to make the start of that translation is Robyn Sussman, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Sussman has just received a two-year Young Investigator grant from the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to pursue this line of research. This week, she is joining 50 researchers from across the country at the third ALSF Young Investigator Summit to learn from and engage with leading researchers in pediatric oncology.