Texas Children's Cancer Center researchers present at world-renowned neuroblastoma conference

HOUSTON - June 18, 2012 - Dr. Eugene Kim, a pediatric surgeon with Texas Children's Cancer Center and assistant professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), and Dr. Jason Shohet, chair of the Neuroblastoma Research Program at Texas Children's Cancer Center and associate professor in the Section of Hematology-Oncology at BCM, will speak at the Advances in Neuroblastoma Research (ANR) conference about the identification of a novel stem cell population in neuroblastoma. For more information about pediatric neuroblastoma visit here.

Kim and Shohet, co-senior authors of the study, use flow cytometry and specific surface markers to isolate a distinct subset of neuroblastoma cells which closely resemble other types of stem cells and are highly tumorigenic in vivo. By identifying this novel cancer stem cell population in neuroblastoma, pediatric oncologists can begin to develop specialized anti-stem cell therapies with the goal of improving outcomes against this deadly and aggressive cancer.

Neuroblastoma is the most common abdominal malignancy in children. Despite modern chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapies, survival is less than 50 percent for children with high-risk disease. While the reasons behind why tumor recurrence happens in some children remains unclear, cancer stem cells are thought to be responsible for relapse.

"Cancer stem cells are like super cancer cells with the ability to re-create whole tumors from a single cell," said Kim. "Cancer stem cells, which have been found to be resistant to both chemotherapy and radiation, can differentiate into a variety of related tumor cells."

The ANR conference - a scientific symposium on neuroblastoma where pre-clinical and clinical research is discussed - brings more than 700 delegates from all over the world together to discuss translational and clinical research in pediatric oncology. The participants represent most of the world's researchers involved in studying and treating neuroblastoma.

In addition to the study co-authored by Kim and Shohet, Dr. Jed Nuchtern, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Texas Children's Hospital, and a pediatric surgeon with Texas Children's Cancer Center and Professor of Surgery at BCM, will present the findings of a nationwide study he led that focused on neuroblastoma and the observation of infants with adrenal masses.

The conference is held every two years and the 2012 event will be held in Toronoto from June 18 to 21. Kim, Shohet and Nuchtern will present their studies on June 21, 2012.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.