VCGS provides a comprehensive range of diagnostic genetic testing for childhood cancers that help specialists best direct and monitor treatments. VCGS regularly contributes to the understanding of childhood cancers through collaboration in international trials such as the Children's Oncology Group (COG).
VCGS has also led the development of an advanced test to monitor the success of bone marrow and organ transplants, allowing doctors to detect early stage graft failure.
Paediatric cancer is a disease where the cells of the body grow in an uncontrolled way. Paediatric cancers are those that primarily occur in children. The most common of these are leukaemias, brain tumours and lymphoma. Almost all cancer cells show genetic changes that can be the cause of the cancer or can indicate disease progression.
Paediatric cancer genetic testing is a vital tool, used to identify the cause of the cancer, the type of cancer, help direct the best course of treatment, and to monitor disease progression and the efficacy of treatment.
Chimerism genetic testing is used to monitor the success of blood stem cell transplantation (like bone marrow transplantation). The test looks at the level of donor bone marrow versus the level of bone marrow from the patient (recipient). VCGS has developed an advanced chimerism test which can detect very small changes in the levels of donor and recipient bone marrow. This is used, with high levels of accuracy, to monitor the health of the transplanted marrow and to detect the early stages of rejection. Unlike traditional chimerism tests, VCGS' chimerism test is also suitable where multiple donors have been used.
Our new chimerism test is also being used to monitor the health of organs that have been used for transplantation, such as kidney transplantation. This allows doctors to determine changes in the health of the transplanted organ much earlier than current methods. These changes may indicate early stages of organ rejection.
Paediatric cancer genetic testing looks at different cancers, like haematological and solid tumour malignancies, which can be caused by, or result in, a variety of specific or random changes in our genetic material. VCGS uses a variety of tests, including FISH, SNP microarray and conventional chromosome analysis to detect genetic changes that occur in patients presenting with various cancers which include acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, brain tumour and neuroblastoma. These changes allow us to identify the type of cancer and therefore help treatment and monitor outcomes.
Chimerism analysis is used after blood stem cell transplant to monitor the success of engraftment or to detect early graft failure, rejection and relapse. The test evaluates the mixture of donor and recipient DNA in the recipient’s blood or bone marrow. To perform chimerism analysis, pre-transplant recipient and donor samples are collected and used for comparison with recipient samples post-transplant. Donor and recipient cells are distinguished from each other using unique CNV (copy number variation) markers that give unique genetic profiles. Testing offered through VCGS is significantly more sensitive than current testing protocols.
Paediatric cancer genetic testing is performed as part of a broad group of tests and is organised by specialist oncologists. VCGS works closely with the Children's Cancer Centre at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne to arrange testing where appropriate. Your oncologist will be able to arrange testing as required.