Deciphering inherited susceptibility to childhood cancer

Some cases of cancer in children and young people are associated with inherited mutations in cancer-predisposing genes, but very little is known about them. This limits our ability to care for children and young people with cancer or prevent them from developing cancer in the first place. Professor Richard Houlston and his team hope to identify new ways to monitor children and young people with these mutations, which could help ensure that we can diagnose cancer sooner and allow doctors to better tailor each child’s cancer care.

This project is co-funded with Cancer Research UK as part of the Cancer Research UK–Children with Cancer UK Innovation Awards. Children with Cancer UK has contributed £431,100.00 towards this research project, the total cost of the project is £862,201.40

Project Details

  • Project Title

    Understanding why some children inherit a greater risk of developing cancer

  • Lead Researcher

    Professor Richard Houlston

  • Research Centre

    The Institute of Cancer Research

  • City & Institution Postcode

    London, SW7 3RP

  • Start Date

    --

  • Duration

    32 months

  • Grant Amount

    £862,201.40

Professor Richard Houlston

Overview

Inside our cells is a genetic code that determines what they become and how they behave. It also determines whether a cell will be healthy or whether it will become cancerous. Errors in this genetic code are called mutations. Most mutations are harmless, but not if they happen in a cancer-predisposing gene (CPG).

Some cases of cancer in children and young people are associated with inherited mutations in these CPGs, but very little is known about them. This limits our ability to care for children and young people with cancer or prevent them from developing cancer in the first place. Although some CPGs have already been identified, there are still more to be found. These are what Professor Richard Houlston’s team are seeking to identify.

Potential impact

By identifying previously unknown CPGs, the team hopes to determine new ways to monitor children and young people with inherited CPG mutations, ensuring that we can diagnose cancer sooner. The insights they gather could also have important implications for how we treat cancer, allowing doctors to better tailor each child’s cancer care, ensuring that they get the right treatment for their cancer and the best possible life afterwards.

About the research team

The team is led by Professor Richard Houlston, who is the head of the Division of Genetics and Epidemiology at The Institute of Cancer Research. His research focuses on the identification and characterisation of the ways that people can be genetically predisposed to developing cancer. His outstanding contributions to the field of cancer genetics earned him his election to The Royal Society as a fellow in 2017.

Animal research:

No animal research will be conducted during this study.