Despite therapeutic successes, cancer remains the leading cause of death from illness for children in Canada. Behind this statistic are not only the names and faces of the children treated at Sainte-Justine, but also the researchers who fight against pediatric cancer.  

Imagine, develop, realize, discover: these are the watchwords that make up the daily reality of Professor Daniel Sinnett, Senior Researcher, Director of the Childhood Cancer Genetics Laboratory, and Scientific Director of the SIGNATURE program. By devoting countless hours trying to understand why certain children do not respond to treatment, this researcher and his team work to push the boundaries of knowledge, driven by their passion. 

Better understanding why relapses happen

Currently, although 80% of children affected by cancer survive their disease, for the remaining 20%, the outlook is bleak. At present, there is little hope for these children in the absence of therapeutic alternatives. 

What anomalies are involved? Can we target them with new medications? How can we treat them while improving children’s quality of life after healing, without long-term side effects and complications? To answer these important questions, Professor Sinnett prioritizes research, which remains the best way to reduce the impact of illness on children, reduce mortality, and lessen the effects of long-term complications on survivors. 

It is still difficult to understand what biological mechanisms are at work that allow tumours to resist treatment. Through our research, we want to discover what needs to be done to treat these refractory forms of cancer and eradicate them completely. My dream is to conquer cancer through research.

Professor Daniel Sinnett

Today, using genomic tools, we can examine all a child’s genes – the “book of life” of each patient. We can identify the molecular basis of a child’s disease, define its potential short-term and long-term resistance to treatment depending on its genetic profile, and also pinpoint the side effects of treatment. Our goal is to develop personalized therapeutic interventions, or what’s known as precision medicine

Pediatric cancer: a fight we need to face together 

The CHU Sainte-Justine is the largest oncology reference centre in Quebec, and must remain so. 

In this context, donors to the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation play an invaluable role in helping to heal young patients. Through their generosity, they give Sainte-Justine the means to accelerate the pace of research, to propose innovative new treatments, and to spread the transfer of knowledge throughout the entire health network, locally, nationally and internationally.

It is our donors who, through their mobilization and their belief in our mission, drive us ever further. They allow our major research programs to quickly move us into the future, thereby improving the future of the children we treat.

Professor Daniel Sinnett

For Professor Sinnett, the fight against cancer is not just a question of research: it’s a matter that concerns all of society. For the children who are facing this disease, we must continue to be their hope for a cure.

And indeed, he is right.