Oncology research at John Hunter Children's Hospital is focused on finding the best chance of cure with the fewest side effects.
The areas we investigate include
Finding the Causes of Cancer in Children
The aim is to investigate the causes of cancer so that the exposure can be minimised and the development of cancers prevented. The Children's Cancer and Haematology Service offers Australian-based research studies to families and children with cancer, aimed at examining why some children may get a certain cancer and why other children do not. Studies to date have focused on acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, brain tumours and other solid tumours.
In our understanding of this disease should allow us to improve diagnosis and treatment strategies.
Staff at John Hunter Children's Hospital through the Childhood Cancer Research Group supports researchers in the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI). These researchers lead by Professor Rodney Scott investigate alterations to our genes that are important in determining whether children get cancer and how well they respond to cancer treatments.
The key to effective treatment of childhood cancer is early and accurate diagnosis.
In cooperation with the Australian and New Zealand Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) and Australian Children's Cancer Trials (ACCT), we participate in national and international studies aimed at improving the method of detecting and measuring the amount of leukaemia cells in bone marrow. By detecting smaller amounts of cancer at an earlier stage of treatment than the standard testing, it is hoped that children with a higher cancer burden can be identified earlier and more intense therapy given to treat them.
Finding More Effective Treatments
This includes development of new anti-cancer drugs and research into other possible methods of curing childhood cancer.
Whilst some childhood cancers have had a great improvement in cure rates, some cancers remain difficult to treat. Access to new experimental drugs can be offered through clinical trials available at John Hunter Children's Hospital. Areas currently being researched include a new agent for relapsed solid tumours, relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, advanced neuroblastoma (a cancer of nervous tissue) and a study aimed at reducing hearing loss in children receiving treatment for hepatoblastoma (a form of liver cancer in children).