The NCI's Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET) is a comprehensive molecular characterization initiative to determine the molecular changes that drive the development and progression of some childhood cancers. An objective of TARGET is to identify valid molecular targets so that new, more effective treatments can be rapidly developed. Additionally, TARGET seeks to improve treatment by finding prognostic markers that distinguish at the time of diagnosis which patients may not respond to standard treatment and could benefit from a more aggressive regimen, or which patients may respond to novel targeted therapies. TARGET makes data readily available to the research community for further investigation to accelerate the findings into the clinic.
There is a need for new treatment approaches to childhood cancers, as improvements in outcomes for children with cancer have slowed over the last several decades. Furthermore, current treatments for pediatric cancers can have serious short- and long-term side effects, and new molecularly targeted therapies are primarily formulated for adult cancers. The TARGET Initiative was developed to help address these issues in pediatric cancer research and treatment by employing cutting-edge genomics research and an open data sharing policy.
TARGET began as a two-year pilot project to investigate promising therapeutic targets in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and neuroblastoma (NBL) through comprehensive characterization of the genomes and transcriptomes of a large number of cases. The success of the pilot justified the expansion of the initiative to include additional pediatric cancers. TARGET investigators are currently focusing their research efforts on several hard-to-treat subpopulations of childhood cancers. Read about these individual projects:
The TARGET initiative is jointly managed by the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Office of Cancer Genomics (OCG) and the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP). It is organized into disease-specific project teams comprised of researchers from the Children's Oncology Group (COG) and the NCI Center for Cancer Research that collaborate with TARGET project and data management staff within NCI. Read about TARGET collaborators.
TARGET research employs the technologies and tools of modern genetics to discover novel therapeutic targets in challenging pediatric cancers. Read about TARGET research.