SickKids Scientist Dr. Adam Shlien Secures $6 Million To Advance Cancer Diagnostic Platform

Dr. Adam Shlien, a Senior Scientist in the Genetics & Genome Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), has been awarded $6 million to advance his ground-breaking cancer diagnostic platform toward clinical implementation. The funding comes as part of Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). 

Shlien’s innovative machine-learning driven universal tumour classifier was developed at SickKids and has the capability to swiftly analyze and classify over 90 per cent of sarcomas – a particularly challenging form of cancer to diagnose. 

Paediatric sarcomas constitute approximately 20 per cent of solid cancers in children and one third of patients succumb to the condition. Sarcomas are notoriously difficult to correctly diagnose, as there are over 100 subtypes. It is important to correctly classify sarcomas quickly, as treatment and therapeutic effectiveness vary drastically depending on the sarcoma subtype.  

Shlien’s RNA-Seq based universal tumour classifier, a component of the Kids Cancer Sequencing program (KiCS) at SickKids, has been used to guide health-care providers in choosing personalized treatments to optimize patient outcomes. Now, with this funding, the tool will move into clinical labs and expand beyond paediatric care. This will be done in partnership with Drs. Brendan Dickson and Rose Chami, leading sarcoma Pathologists from Mount Sinai Hospital and SickKids, respectively. 

Securing this funding will aid the development and clinical implementation of Shlien’s innovation, building upon previous research success highlighted in a recent Nature Medicine publication. The validation study made possible by this funding will help propel the commercialization efforts supported by the SickKids’ Industry Partnerships & Commercialization office. 

Learn more about Shlien’s research. 


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