Understanding the genetic basis of chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy

Understanding the genetic basis of chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy

Recipient: Dr Rachel Conyers
Institute: The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Funding: $583,072 July 2018 to December 2022

This project is funded in partnership with the RACP Foundation and is known as The Kids’ Cancer Project Research Establishment Fellowship Grant. 

Every year, all around the world, more than 300,000 children with cancer are treated with anthracyclines. In an estimated 60,000 survivors, the major long-term side effect is cardiac damage, medically known as anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity (ACT). ACT can result in life-threatening impairment of heart function, with 70 per cent of severely affected patients dying from this complication.


Behind the science: Dr Rachel Conyers


Dr Conyers, together with Dr David Elliot, from the cardiac development laboratory at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, have discovered that children with cancer who suffer chemotherapy-induced heart damage have genetic markers that are rarely observed in those who do not develop heart disease. The hypothesis is that these variants predispose those patients to ACT.
 
Understanding the molecular causes of ACT in paediatric cancer survivors will provide an avenue for improved individual risk profiling along with novel strategies to minimize cardiac injury from anthracyclines in those most at risk.