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Genomics of Pediatric Germ Cell Tumors

Institution: 
Regents of the University of Michigan
Researcher(s): 
Jenny Poynter, MPH
Grant Type: 
Epidemiology Grants
Year Awarded: 
2017
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Germ Cell Tumor
Project Description: 

Background

Pediatric germ cell tumors (GCTs) are cancers that affect approximately 600 children and adolescents per year in the United States; the incidence rates for some pediatric GCTs are rising. Little is known about why these types of cancers develop in children, but it is possible that abnormalities in underlying genetic processes that occur during fetal development play a role. 

Project Goal

We are proposing the largest epidemiology study ever conducted to evaluate the contribution of underlying genetic susceptibility to the development of pediatric GCT. Over the past five years, we have conducted the first large genetic epidemiology study of pediatric GCT, including over 850 children and adolescents with GCT and their biological parents. In our planned research, we will combine these existing data with newly collected data from the California Biobank Program. In this combined dataset, we will have genetic information for over 1,500 GCT cases. This will allow us to evaluate genetic risk for GCT overall and also to understand how this risk may be different for children with different types of GCT. We will also look at differences in the number of copies of genes on the X chromosome, as an increased or decreased number of copies may be associated with risk. Our goal is to provide important insights on how early-life events may lead to long-term alterations in gene function and increase the risk of cancer.