HOUSTON – June 18, 2012 – Dr. Eugene Kim, a pediatric surgeon with Texas Children’s Cancer Center and assistant professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), and Dr. Jason Shohet, chair of the Neuroblastoma Research Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and associate professor in the Section of Hematology-Oncology at BCM, will speak at the Advances in Neuroblastoma Research (ANR) conference about the identification of a novel stem cell population in neuroblastoma.
Kim and Shohet, co-senior authors of the study, use flow cytometry and specific surface markers to isolate a distinct subset of neuroblastoma cells which closely resemble other types of stem cells and are highly tumorigenic in vivo. By identifying this novel cancer stem cell population in neuroblastoma, pediatric oncologists can begin to develop specialized anti-stem cell therapies with the goal of improving outcomes against this deadly and aggressive cancer.
Neuroblastoma is the most common abdominal malignancy in children. Despite modern chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapies, survival is less than 50 percent for children with high-risk disease. While the reasons behind why tumor recurrence happens in some children remains unclear, cancer stem cells are thought to be responsible for relapse.
“Cancer stem cells are like super cancer cells with the ability to re-create whole tumors from a single cell,” said Kim. “Cancer stem cells, which have been found to be resistant to both chemotherapy and radiation, can differentiate into a variety of related tumor cells.”
The ANR conference – a scientific symposium on neuroblastoma where pre-clinical and clinical research is discussed – brings more than 700 delegates from all over the world together to discuss translational and clinical research in pediatric oncology. The participants represent most of the world’s researchers involved in studying and treating neuroblastoma.
In addition to the study co-authored by Kim and Shohet, Dr. Jed Nuchtern, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital, and a pediatric surgeon with Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Professor of Surgery at BCM, will present the findings of a nationwide study he led that focused on neuroblastoma and the observation of infants with adrenal masses.
The conference is held every two years and the 2012 event will be held in Toronto from June 18 to 21. Kim, Shohet and Nuchtern will present their studies on June 21, 2012.
Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to creating a community of healthy children through excellence in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation, Texas Children’s has recognized Centers of Excellence in multiple pediatric subspecialties including the Cancer and Heart Centers, and operates the largest primary pediatric care network in the country. Texas Children’s has completed a $1.5 billion expansion, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; and Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston. For more information on Texas Children’s, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children’s by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/texaschildrens.