Precision Oncology Program

Precision oncology is a type of cancer care in which a treatment plan is created for each individual patient based on information doctors learn from studying that specific patient’s DNA. Precision oncology allows physicians to tailor the patient’s care for his or her exact diagnosis with a better understanding of how the cancer will react based on the child’s genetic profile.

The Pediatric Precision Oncology Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is one of the leaders in the field of precision oncology in pediatric cancer care.

Established in May 2012, our unique precision oncology program is a multidisciplinary effort involving clinical care and translational science with partners across the University of Michigan campus and beyond.

U-M brings together dedicated researchers and clinicians – from oncology, bioinformatics, immuno-hematology, cancer genetics, pathology, bioethics, and pharmacy to deliver resources to pediatric patients with hard-to-treat cancers.

U-M’s unique approach to precision oncology

Pediatric oncologist Dr. Rajen Mody and his team use next-generation sequencing approaches to treat the most difficult relapsed or refractory pediatric cancers. Together with Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan at the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology (MCTP), our program uses both tumor and normal (DNA) sequencing along with tumor transcriptome (RNA) sequencing to identify key genetic changes at the DNA and RNA level in an individual patient, which can be targeted by available biologic or immunotherapeutic agents.

Graphic with the Benefits of DNA Sequencing in Childhood Cancer

Click on image to enlarge.

The team was first to publish their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was recognized as one of the most important scientific articles for 2015 by the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program. Overall the study team found new information that resulted in new treatment recommendations, change in diagnosis or information important to other family members for cancer screening in about 60% of the patients.

A majority of these patients had no known treatment available before the study. However, the treatment changes based on study recommendations resulted in several patients achieving long lasting remissions including in patients with leukemia, solid tumors and brain tumors.

Collaborative “tumor board” expertise

Genomic findings are reviewed bi-weekly in multi-disciplinary Precision Medicine Tumor Board (PMTB) meetings, which bring together experts from bioinformatics, cancer genetics, adult and pediatric oncology, clinical pathology, pharmacy, and bioethics.

The treating physicians of the patients scheduled to be discussed are invited to attend in-person or via teleconference software. Sequencing results are deliberated by the board and potential treatment options and available clinical trials are discussed to determine the best course of therapy for the patient. Additionally, U’M’s Brain Tumor (CNS) Precision Medicine Conference is held once a month with the goal of identifying precision-medicine based therapies for pediatric brain tumor patients.

Partnering with leaders throughout U-M and beyond

The strength of our program comes from a collaborative team approach, not just within our own institution, but extending to scientists and physician scientists at other centers. Our faculty have forged strong industry partnerships to transition our findings into clinical applications. We welcome inquiries for collaboration with researchers and physicians in academia, health care organizations, as well as industry groups.

Our Pediatric Precision Oncology Program has formed tremendous collaborations with the University of Michigan Chad Carr Pediatric Brain Tumor Center and the ChadTough Foundation, who are committed to advancing treatment for children diagnosed with brain tumors.

Take the next step

For more information about pediatric precision oncology at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, contact our clinical research coordinator by email or at 734-764-9306.

To inquire about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion, contact our pediatric oncology clinic at 734-936-9814.