Children’s hospitals using genetics to change pediatric care

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., June 18, 2018 — Seven children’s hospitals across the United States are collaborating to rapidly integrate genetics and genomics into primary and specialty pediatric care.

Above all, the mission of the Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium is to work together on innovative clinical program development, advocacy for children, cutting-edge research and educational programs for the future of genomic medicine.

The seven member-hospitals include:

Sanford Health has provided $500,000 in seed funding for group projects over the next year.

The initial projects funded by the collaboration therefore include a study of rapid whole genomic sequencing in critically ill newborn infants, and a study evaluating the routine use of an extensive, pediatric-focused, next generation sequencing panel in the diagnosis of childhood cancers.

Genetic diseases are a leading cause of illnesses and death in infants in neonatal and pediatric intensive care units (NICU, PICU). As a result, these children often undergo an extensive and expensive diagnostic process that may not lead to a final diagnosis.

Identify the risk

Stephen Kingsmore, M.D., D.Sc., is the president and CEO of Rady Children’s Institute of Genomic Medicine (RCIGM). Kingsmore is leading rapid whole genomic sequencing in critically ill newborn infants. This will therefore determine the complete DNA sequence of a child’s genome at one time. This can identify the risk of genetic diseases. Currently, the average turn-around time for sequencing to diagnosis by the RCIGM team is under a week. That is significantly faster than the common timetable for this type of work, which can take weeks to complete.

“The future of pediatric medicine is being transformed by the ability to rapidly decode the genomes of the most fragile newborns to deliver exact diagnoses and targeted treatment,” said Kingsmore.

Pediatric cancers have different genetic beginnings compared with adult cancers. Current panels for detecting the genetic origins of a tumor primarily focus on adult cancers. OncoKidsSM developed at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is specifically formulated to detect the genomic changes of pediatric cancers. This includes leukemias, lymphomas, bone, soft tissue and brain tumors.

“The ability to identify the precise underlying genomic alterations in individual tumors with OncoKidsSM allows us to personalize care and innovate how we treat children with cancer,” said Alexander R. Judkins, M.D., pathologist-in-chief and executive director of the Center for Personalized Medicine (CPM) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Gains from collaboration

Certainly, the vision of Denny Sanford inspired extending precision medicine to children’s health through this consortium. In 2014, the health care philanthropist gave $125 million to Sanford Health to create Sanford Imagenetics, the first program in the nation, as a result, to embed the latest in genomic medicine with primary care.

“I am thankful to each member for their participation in the Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium,” said Gene Hoyme, M.D., medical director, Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium. “So much can be gained for the care of children through the collaboration of these hospitals.”