Carolinas HealthCare System
Winter 2012

Levine Children's Hospital Joins Landmark Pediatric Cancer Trial


Joel Kaplan, MD
Levine Children's Hospital Division of Hematology-Oncology and trial principal investigator for Carolinas Medical Center (CMC)

THE FDA RECENTLY APPROVED THE opening of a first-of-its-kind genomic-based clinical trial to treat and study pediatric neuroblastoma.CMC, through a unique partnership between Levine Children’s Hospital and Levine Cancer Institute, is one of only five trial enrollment sites in the United States.

Leading-Edge Therapy

This trial, offered through the nationwide network of pediatric cancer clinical trial sites called the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC), offers clinicians an opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of a new treatment approach using patients’ specific cancer genetic profiles to guide treatment decisions in pediatric cancer. Genomic-guided therapy leverages new research technologies to identify subtle differences in an individual‘s genetic makeup that provide a clearer picture of his or her disease.

In November 2011, Dell announced that it would commit several million dollars for the first year to support those research efforts with cloud computing technology and personnel support. A personalized medicine trial of this size and scope requires a significant amount of data aggregation and interpretation. Because of this support, we’re able to start enrolling patients much sooner (likely in the first quarter of 2012).

This approach offers new hope to children who are facing one of the most challenging of all pediatric cancers, and the opportunity for our researchers to aid in the development of a new standard of pediatric cancer care.

About Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that forms in the nerve cells of infants or children younger than age 5 (it can also begin in utero). It usually begins in the adrenal glands, but it can start in nerve tissue near the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis or spinal cord. In some cases, by the time physicians find the cancer, it has spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms are:

  • a lump or mass in the abdomen, neck or chest
  • bulging eyes and dark circles around the eyes
  • pain in the arms, legs or other bones
  • swollen stomach and trouble breathing
  • bluish skin lesions or lumps under the skin
  • weakness, numbness or paralysis

Currently, neuroblastoma accounts for 15 percent of all pediatric cancer deaths in the United States, and is a disease for which children who relapse have no curative therapies available.

Clinical Trial Participation

For information about how to refer a patient, contact:

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