Research published last year by Professor David Huang from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne and our own Professor Richard Lock showed Aussie anti-cancer drug Venetoclax holds promise for infants, i.e. children under one year old, with a high-risk subtype of leukaemia called mixed lineage leukaemia-rearranged infant ALL (MLLr-ALL). The drug was approved recently for use in adult cancer by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Ad- ministration (TGA). With more research and testing, Venetoclax may well turn out to be part of a personalised approach to treat some of childhood cancer’s more aggressive sub- types.
A tailored approach to cancer treatment, brought on by the genomics revolution, is called ‘personalised’ or ‘precision’ medicine, and will change the face of healthcare. The identification and targeting of gene drivers in individual patient’s cancer cells is an integral part of the Zero Childhood Cancer personalised medicine program led by Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick.
As more gene drivers and their associated proteins are identified, and new drugs are developed to specifically target them, the weapons in oncologists’ arsenals are increasing in number and precision. Venetoclax is the latest addition.