CAAC supports childhood cancer research at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. The Childhood Cancer Center at MUSC is a division of pediatric hematology-oncology and offers comprehensive care for children with cancer and blood disorders. There are more than 60 new childhood cancer diagnoses seen annually at MUSC; 39 children have been diagnosed with neuroblastoma at MUSC since 2001.
CAAC works closely with Dr. Kraveka, a pediatric oncologist. Her research laboratory, housed in the Darby Children’s Research Institute, is the only laboratory in the state of South Carolina dedicated to translational pediatric cancer research.
MUSC Children’s Hospital is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the world’s premier pediatric cancer research collaborative. COG, a National Cancer Institute supported clinical trials group, is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. The COG unites more than 8,000 experts in childhood cancer at more than 200 leading children’s hospitals, universities, and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe in the fight against childhood cancer. Today, more than 90% of 13,500 children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States are cared for at COG member institutions. COG’s unparalleled collaborative efforts provide the information and support needed to answer important clinical questions in the fight against cancer.
MUSC Children’s Hospital is also a member of the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC). The NMTRC is a group of 18 universities and children’s hospitals headquartered at the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI that offer a nationwide network of childhood cancer clinical trials. These trials are based on the research from a group of closely collaborating investigators who are linked with laboratory programs developing novel therapies for high-risk neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma. Their mission is to create a national collaborative effort of researchers, oncologists and family advocates to bring forward new therapies for children with relapsed neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma with the goal of improving the quality of life and survival of children with neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma.
Dr. Kraveka is very involved on the national level in COG and the NMTRC. She is the Institutional Principal Investigator (PI) for all COG and NMTRC trials open at MUSC. As the institutional PI, she is responsible for the conduct of over 50 pediatric clinical trials currently open for patient enrollment at the MUSC. She is member of the COG Neuroblastoma Disease Committee and the COG Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Committee. She has been involved in the design numerous clinical trials for children with neuroblastoma. She is involved in the first clinical trial of personalized medicine in pediatric cancer and is the Rare Tumor Study Chair of the NMTRC clinical trial, NMTRC 008: A Feasibility Trial using Molecular-Guided Therapy for the Treatment of Patients with Relapsed and Refractory Childhood Cancer. This is an open label, multicenter prospective study to evaluate the ability of using genome-wide expression profiles of a child’s tumor along with DNA mutation panels to predict individual therapies for patients. This study outlines an approach by which we can use our expanding knowledge of the individual genetics of tumors to understand the mechanisms which cause tumors to grow. This knowledge is then used to identify specific targeted therapies for each patient.
Dr. Kraveka’s laboratory focuses mainly on neuroblastoma and on identifying and developing new treatments for this deadly disease. The goal her research is to develop new treatments for children that will be more effective and have fewer side effects. Her laboratory research focuses on sphingolipid based therapeutics. Sphingolipids make up cell membranes and play important roles in cancer cell growth. Targeting sphingolipid metabolism has been shown to be a novel and effective method of cancer cell destruction. Sphingolipid targeted therapies have great potential for pediatric cancer therapy because they:
- Can be combined with existing chemotherapeutic agents to improve clinical outcomes.
- Can help overcome drug resistance.
- Can enhance responses to radiation therapy
- Can inhibit tumor metastases, migration, invasion, and angiogenesis.
- Can have fewer side effects than conventional therapies.