Sidra Medicine Launches New Phase in Pediatric Cancer Research


15 November 2023, Doha, Qatar Sidra Medicine (a QF entity) has initiated a new phase in cancer care, with its pediatric cancer research program, to advance the cutting-edge diagnosis, early detection and treatment of cancers affecting children and young people.

The updates related to pediatric cancer research were announced on the last day of Sidra Medicine’s PMFG 2023 conference by Dr. Cristina Maccalli, Principal Investigator from the Immune and Biological Therapy Laboratory and Dr. Ayman Saleh, Division Chief Pediatric Hematology-Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplant at Sidra Medicine.

Dr. Maccalli said: “The aim of our pediatric cancer research program is to allow almost any child to potentially receive precision medicine treatments and have access to the most advanced therapeutic options, including cell-based therapies and targeted therapies designed on the specific molecular findings of the tumour of each patient.”

The pediatric cancer research program is co-led by Dr. Maccalli, Dr. Saleh, along with Dr. Wouter Hendrickx, Principal Investigator from the Omics Pediatric Cancer Lab and Dr. Erdener Ozer, Division Chief of Anatomical Pathology.

Dr. Ayman said: “This new chapter in cancer research, will help create a unique ecosystem and model of care based on precision medicine, for our young cancer patients. Thanks to the collaborative effort between research, clinical care, anatomical and molecular pathology, the program will also support the discovery of new cures and treatments as well as seek to decrease acute or long-term side effects in patients undergoing treatment at our hospital.”

Dr. Maccalli is also the Co-principal investigator in the European Cooperation in Science and Technology-COST grant application ‘Genome Editing to Treat Human Diseases’ (GeneHumdi) by the Pfizer-University of Granada-Junta de Andalucía Centre for Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO) in Spain. Dr. Maccalli will implement the ex vivo delivery of genome editing systems and the innovative protocols to be applied for translational studies for cancer cell therapy.  

As part of her Co-PI role, Dr. Maccalli is hosting the PMFG 2023 post conference workshop on Genome Editing in partnership with GENYO and the European COST action ‘GeneHumdi’; an EU-funded network that connects researchers and innovators across Europe and beyond, to tackle knowledge fragmentation and accelerate the translation of genome editing technologies for the treatment of human diseases.

“Genome editing represents one of the most powerful technologies to achieve a greater understanding of human health and disease. Gene editing tools are allowing researchers to target almost any gene for modification in a highly specific and reliable way. The applications range from intervention for developmental diseases, to gene therapy and cell therapies for cancer. Our pediatric cancer research program is on a solid track to implement the best therapies possible for our patients –with a commitment to continuously improve and advance the research, the discovery and precision approach to care for patients in Qatar,” Dr. Maccalli concluded.

Sidra Medicine recently published its “Pediatric Oncology Report 2022” report, to coincide with World Cancer Research Day and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September this year.