Childhood cancer

Neuroblastoma is one of the most frequently occurring solid tumors in children, especially in the first two years of life, when it accounts for 50% of all tumors.  Neuroblastoma comprises 6-10% of all childhood cancers, and 15% of cancer deaths in children.  It is the second most common cause of death in children, only preceded by accidents.  The cause of neuroblastoma is unknown, though most physicians believe that it is an accidental cell growth that occurs during normal development of the adrenal glands and sympathetic ganglia.

The rapid advancement in genetic research on cancer holds great promise for treating neuroblastoma.  Genes linked to various cancers have been found, and researchers are currently developing effective therapeutic drugs aimed at some of the important molecular targets.

The project’s researchers are using computational methods to identify new candidate drugs that have the right shape and chemical characteristics to block three proteins – TrkB, ALK and SCxx, which are expressed at high levels or abnormally mutated in aggressive neuroblastomas.  If these proteins are disabled, researchers believe there should be a high cure rate using chemotherapy.