Painting the Picture of Germ Cell Tumors in Kids

Your donation funds research on pediatric germ cell tumors. Izzy (above) was diagnosed with a germ cell yolk sac tumor at just a year old. Read Izzy's story here. 

Over the last 9 years, Jenny Poynter, PhD, assembled the largest collection of genetic samples of pediatric germ cell tumors available in the world.

For 12 years, she has been researching germ cell tumors, which occur primarily inside the ovaries and testes. At long last, and thanks in part to Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF), she’s poised to discover the reasons why kids' genes go haywire and develop the disease.

This is monumental because the disease is understudied in children. “There is a lot of genetic data in adult men with germ cell tumors,” said Poynter, “But nobody has done anything with kids, and we’re going to find out if the disease is different in them.”

So far, the biggest challenge for Poynter has been tracking down the samples in different states and jumping through the administrative hoops. For a rare cancer like germ cell cancer, this was a huge undertaking, because in order to paint a clear picture of what the cancer looks like, researchers need lots of data. Because it's such a rare cancer, the “supplies” to paint the picture of germ cell tumors were few and far between and needed to be collected from individual patients.

Now that she has what she needs, she’s working with bioinformatics expert, Nathan Pankratz, PhD to start the genetic analysis.

The analysis could potentially tell her the risk factors or genes that cause the disease in kids. The knowledge will help doctors discern how to better prevent and treat it.

Poynter’s work started with a pilot grant from Children’s Cancer Research Fund more than a decade ago, and now she gets to see her hard work come to fruition with CCRF’s Dream grant, thanks to donors like you.

“I think all of us in the lab feel really grateful to CCRF for keeping our research moving forward, especially since NIH grants are so competitive,” she said.

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When you donate to Children's Cancer Research Fund, you make it possible for researchers to uncover how to better prevent and treat childhood cancers. Every $1 donated helps researchers secure $18 in additional funding to make groundbreaking discoveries.

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