Population-specific Genetic Variants Important in Susceptibility to Cyclophosphamide in Pediatric Patients

Neuroblastoma is a deadly pediatric cancer. We believe that some patients do not survive because of genetic differences, and that those patients that do not respond to treatment protocols will be found to have genetic variants that confer resistance to chemotherapy. My work, under the supervision of M. Eileen Dolan, PhD, aims to find the genetic factors that may explain resistance to chemotherapy. Our lab gives chemotherapy to white blood cells from healthy volunteers from all over the world. The entire DNA code, or genome, for each of these cells is known. By comparing how sensitive or resistant these cells are to chemotherapy against their genetic code, we can find genetic changes that are associated with chemotherapy resistance. We hope to find genetic variables associated with resistance to cyclophosphamide, one of the backbones of neuroblastoma treatment, and see if these variables are the explanation for differences in outcome. These results will help us to personalize therapy for these patients and eventually improve cure rates of this devastating disease.