Accelerating Treatment for Children

A breakthrough genetic test, capable of scanning the entire genome of a tumour, has been shown to expedite treatment for children with cancer, according to a recent NHS trial. This innovative approach, known as whole genome sequencing, was trialled at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Cambridge University Hospitals, offering significant advancements in paediatric oncology.

Whole Genome Sequencing: A Comprehensive Diagnostic Tool

Whole genome sequencing analyses tumour samples to identify all cancer-causing mutations, thereby guiding treatment by pinpointing the underlying genetic drivers of childhood cancers. This method replaces the need for multiple invasive biopsies and hundreds of standard tests currently used to identify these genetic factors.

By mapping the entire genetic code of a patient’s tumour, this technique can also determine if tumours are caused by hereditary faulty genes, providing crucial information about the potential risks for other family members.

Promising Trial Results

The trial, involving 281 children with various cancers, demonstrated the test’s ability to reproduce the results of 738 standard tests accurately. In approximately one-third of the cases, whole genome sequencing provided additional insights beyond those obtained from conventional methods. In 7% of the cases, these insights led to immediate improvements in clinical care, such as changes in medication.

Dr. Jack Bartram from Great Ormond Street and the North Thames Genomic Medicine Service highlighted the efficiency of this test, noting that results could be delivered in as little as ten days. This is a significant improvement over standard tests, which only analyse small regions of the cancer genome and often require multiple rounds of testing.

Implications for Clinical Practice

Experts are advocating for whole genome sequencing to become a routine part of clinical care for children with suspected cancer. The trial’s findings, published in *Nature Medicine*, suggest that this approach could benefit around 1,000 children annually in England alone. The NHS has already announced plans to offer whole genome sequencing to all children with cancer in England from this year.

The test’s ability to deliver comprehensive genetic insights quickly not only improves diagnostic accuracy but also reduces the emotional and physical burden on young patients and their families. It provides a more holistic understanding of the genetic landscape of cancer, facilitating tailored treatments and better long-term care strategies.

Conclusion on cancer breakthrough

Whole genome sequencing represents a significant advancement in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancers. Its integration into routine clinical practice promises to enhance the speed and accuracy of cancer treatment, offering new hope to thousands of children and their families. The NHS’s commitment to this cutting-edge technology underscores its potential to transform paediatric oncology, setting a new standard for cancer care globally.

Share this article

Start Your Claim

We’re ready to start working with you


Call Us

Call our legal helpline to talk to an expert now.


Claim Online

Start your claim online and get started quickly.


Visit Us

Our offices are in Mossley Hill, Liverpool

Contact Us