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Pushing the Envelope in Neuroblastoma Therapy

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Science  16 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6049, pp. 1569-1571
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6049.1569

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In part because there is substantial genetic variation from one tumor to another, neuroblastoma frequently evades treatment. Once relapse hits, as it does for two-thirds of high-risk patients, survival becomes a dream out of reach. About 1% are cured. Pediatric oncologists are surveying tumor gene expression patterns in children with dwindling options and using algorithms to match tumor features with available drugs—including drugs not designed to treat cancer—and creating mouse models of every child's cancer and testing therapies on the animals, to help determine whether the matching system is on target. But some oncologists caution that science and mathematics just aren't solid enough to make reliable tumor-drug matches consistently. That hasn't stopped parents from tirelessly raising money and volunteering to sign up their children.