In her research, Dr. Lafay-Cousin is striving to understand the molecular makeup of a rare and aggressive brain cancer in young children called AT/RT (atypical teratoid/thabdoid tumour). The focus of her research is to identify clinical and molecular factors that determine whether or not a child will survive the disease.
To this end, Dr. Lafay-Cousin has developed the Canadian CNS ATRT Registry, the only national registry to include all children with ATRT, whether or not they received treatment. This population-based registry offers a true picture of the distribution, characteristics and management of ATRT in Canadian children and is a vital resource for researchers.
Understanding the molecular nature of ATRT
Furthermore, because the registry includes patient tissue samples, Dr. Lafay-Cousin has been able to contribute to the molecular characterization of this rare disease, providing researchers with a picture of the underlying genomic and molecular changes that ATRT cells undergo to multiply and survive. Armed with this new knowledge, researchers will be in a better position to develop therapies to directly tackle these specific changes.
Dr. Lucie Lafay-Cousin is a pediatric oncologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and an associate professor in the Department of Oncology and Pediatrics at the University of Calgary. She currently chairs the Children`s Oncology Group clinical trial, ACNS 1221, for young children with desmoplastic medulloblastoma.