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St. Jude scientist to lead NCI Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program

The National Cancer Institute has announced the establishment of the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP), a program that will systematically test 10-15 agents or combinations of agents annually in preclinical models of common childhood cancers.

The PPTP is supported through an NCI research contract to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with St. Jude Molecular Pharmacology Chair, Peter Houghton, Ph.D., as the principal investigator.

The program will develop procedures for generating sufficient preclinical information to allow pediatric oncology researchers to reliably prioritize new agents for study in children with specific cancers. The increasing number of anti-cancer agents potentially available for clinical testing makes a rational agent-prioritization process essential for future progress in developing effective new childhood cancer treatments. Without correct prioritization of agents, clinical scientists will have little chance of discovering active treatments in the limited number of clinical trials that can be conducted for any given type of childhood cancer. The PPTP will begin testing agents in early 2005.

"This is the first attempt to evaluate new drugs or biologics in a consistent manner to select those agents that have promising activity for treatment of childhood cancer," Houghton said. "The program builds upon extensive work undertaken at St. Jude and elsewhere that indicates the value of preclinical models, where tumors from children are grown in immune-deficient mice to identify new agents and drug combinations that have significant therapeutic activity in subsequent clinical trials."

Testing will occur both at St. Jude and at subcontract sites that have expertise in specific childhood cancers, including Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (John Maris), Albert Einstein Medical Center (Richard Gorlick), Duke University (Henry Friedman), Children's Hospital
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Contact: Bonnie Cameron
bonnie.cameron@stjude.org
901-495-4815
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
9-Nov-2004


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