In addition to procuring and distributing biospecimens following the usual CHTN procedures, the CHTN Pediatric Division (pCHTN) also has a unique and longstanding relationship with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). This relationship allows the pCHTN to distribute COG banked biospecimens once all clinical trial-specific correlative science studies are completed. Although the pCHTN is not a bank, this partnership gives CHTN investigators access to the precious clinically-annotated biospecimens maintained by COG. In this setting, applications for these biospecimens are handled by the pCHTN, but the availability of the biospecimens is determined by the COG’s specific Disease Committees following detailed evaluation of the scientific value of each application.
One of the latest and far-reaching COG initiatives is Project:EveryChild. The COG states the following:
“There are approximately 14,000 new cases of childhood cancer each year in the United States. The most common cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, occurs in approximately 3,500 children each year in the US. The incidence of many childhood cancers, however, is less than 1,000 cases/year, and a number occur in less than 100 children/year. Yet for a family with a child diagnosed with cancer, it makes no difference whether the cancer is common or rare – their child deserves the best chance at cure.
As the COG continues to conduct a broad range of clinical-translational research for children with cancer, we have launched a five-year initiative that will become the fundamental platform for discovery and allow us to determine the molecular basis of every childhood cancer. The keys to discovery will be to study cancer in the laboratory using a combination of the most appropriate -omic methodologies, (e.g. genomics, proteomics, metabolomics), and to link findings to informative clinical data from each child. As the costs associated with the primary laboratory approach (genomics) have fallen precipitously – from $100,000,000 for sequencing the first whole human genome in 2001 to costs approaching $1,000/genome today – it will be the linkage to clinical data that will forge the pathway to discovery and cure for all childhood cancers.
Project:EveryChild is centered on a single research study that aims to capture the biology and outcome of every child diagnosed with cancer in the United States and COG’s affiliated countries. Participation is offered to every child diagnosed with cancer, no matter how “common” or rare the cancer may be. Key clinical data on disease presentation, therapeutic approach and outcome will leverage the COG infrastructure. Although many children are also offered the opportunity to enroll on a COG therapeutic study, such enrollment is not a requirement. Biospecimens, including tumor tissue, host and when feasible parental DNA, are stored at COG’s state-of–the-art biobank in Columbus, OH. The Project:EveryChild protocol replaces and encompasses the currently open biology protocols, but will capture the full diversity of childhood cancers.
Funding to launch this program is directed towards enrollment, biospecimen acquisition, data capture, and biobanking. Approximately 70% of funds will be for payment to COG sites to offset the costs associated with well-trained coordinator(s) overseeing biospecimen collection and handling. Approximately 30% of funds will be directed towards biospecimen shipping, storage, supplies, and informatics and data management.”
As with all COG studies, once the initial Project:EveryChild correlative studies and projects are completed the banked biospecimens will become available for approved investigators through the pCHTN.