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New data resource centre will help better understand links between birth defects and childhood cancer
Researchers from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research playing major role in the design and development of the new initiative.

Researchers from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research playing major role in the design and development of the new initiative.

Toronto (August 15, 2017) – Children with structural birth defects are at a much higher risk of developing certain types of childhood cancers but scientists currently lack vital information about why this occurs.

Up to $14.8 million over five years, contingent on available funds, was announced today by The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund’s Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First). Researchers in Canada and the United States are using these funds to join together and build a centralized, cloud-based database and discovery portal of genetic and clinical data called the Kids First Data Resource Center (DRC).

The new database will bring together data from dozens of distinct, previously established cohorts focused on birth defects and childhood cancers. By combining these data and making them available to the wider research community, researchers hope to identify shared genetic pathways that can be used to better understand the links between these two types of disorders and to develop new solutions to stop or slow the development childhood cancers in patients with birth defects.

Drs. Lincoln Stein and Vincent Ferretti at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) are Principal Investigators on the project and OICR will support the innovative design and development of the Kids First DRP and associated web-based analytic tools for Kids First’s disease-specific data sets.

“The Kids First Data Resource Center unites two research communities that rarely talk with each other: the birth defects community, which studies rare inherited mutations, and the pediatric cancer community, which studies mutations that are acquired after birth,” said Lincoln Stein, OICR’s Head of Adaptive Oncology and a Principal Investigator on the project. “The Resource will promote the exchange of ideas among the two communities and accelerate the discovery of new ways to treat these devastating childhood disorders.”

The current lack of available resources to study childhood cancers and birth defects together is slowing the development of new diagnostics, treatments, and cures for children with some forms of childhood cancer. Researchers believe that by linking the data from these two distinct cohorts they will be able to make discoveries not possible looking at each cohort in isolation and help far more children overcome their disease.

“This important initiative brings data together in a new way to support scientific breakthroughs,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. “Ontario is a leader in the life sciences and it is exciting to see Ontario researchers contributing their expertise to a world class research project that will have a real impact for patients.”

Investigators at the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will lead the joint effort to develop the Kids First Data Resource Center with Seven Bridges Genomics, Inc., OICR, the University of Chicago, Children’s National Health System and the Oregon Health and Science University.

Within the NIH, the Kids First program is primarily led by four institutes and centres (ICs) including NICHD, NCI, NHGRI, NHLBI, in partnership with the Office of the NIH Director and with the additional involvement of several other institutes and centres.

For more information see: CHOP to lead new pediatric data resource center for research in childhood cancer, birth defects.

About OICR

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is a collaborative, not-for-profit research institute focused on accelerating the translation of new cancer research discoveries to patients around the world while maximizing the economic benefit of this research for the people of Ontario. Funding for OICR is provided by the Government of Ontario.

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Christopher Needles
Senior Manager, Strategic Communications