Cancer remains the main cause of death by disease in children despite high cure rates. New treatment options are needed to improve the survival of these young patients. Childhood cancers, such as leukemia, sarcoma or neuroblastoma contain high numbers of epigenetic aberrations which can be removed using epigenetic inhibitors. My research program focuses on two epigenetic modifications, DNA methylation and histone acetylation. Epigenetic drugs demonstrate clinical efficacy in adult patients and are better tolerated by patients than conventional cytotoxic drugs. Epigenetic drugs represent new targeted therapies that can significantly improve childhood cancer survival rates. To bring epigenetic treatment to the forefront of childhood cancer management, I have developed a research program composed of three innovative epigenetic projects.
My first project is a pan-Canadian multicentric clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy of an epigenetic drug combination against childhood solid tumors and leukemia. My clinical trial received Health Canada's approval and patient enrolment is ongoing. My second project focuses on new epigenetic drugs that I discovered. This project aims to characterize their epigenetic mechanism of action and to evaluate their preclinical activity in pediatric leukemia, sarcoma and neuroblastoma models. My goal is to bring rapidly these new drugs into clinical trials. My third project is based on my results demonstrating that epigenetic drugs can reverse the resistance of cancer cells to immunotherapy.
The combination of epigenetic drugs and immunotherapy is an innovative strategy that can significantly improve the outcome of young cancer patients. In summary, my goal is to develop new and more effective epigenetic therapies to increase cure rates of pediatric patients.