TMC experts join forces to fight eye cancer in children

Houston Business Journal - by Monica Perin Reporter

Doctors and researchers from four Texas Medical Center institutions have joined forces to create the Retinoblastoma Center of Houston.

With experts from Texas Children's Cancer Center, the Children's Cancer Hospital at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, the new center "will be able to deliver the highest quality patient care and conduct important research related to the diagnosis and treatment of retinoblastoma," a cancer of the eye that attacks children, said center clinical codirector Dr. Murali Chintagumpala, pediatric oncologist at Texas Children's Cancer Center and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

The center will be the first of its kind in the southwest United States and is the only one in the nation using gene therapy in clinical trials to treat and potentially find a cure for retinoblastoma.

Patients will also have access to a special form of radiation called proton therapy that helps spare healthy tissue around tumor areas and minimize the risk of secondary cancers.

In addition, the center will perform genetic testing, an important element because retinoblastoma is often hereditary.

Retinoblastoma affects about 350 infants and children in the United States each year and is the most common malignant tumor of the eye in children.

“Since this cancer is so rare, it’s important for us to come together as a team to share our expertise and bring the best care to all retinoblastoma patients,” said Dr. Dan Gombos, clinical codirector of the center and associate professor of ophthalmology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Other research codirectors of center are Dr. Richard Hurwitz, Texas Children’s Cancer Center and associate professor in BCM’s departments of pediatrics, ophthalmology, molecular and cellular biology and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy; and Dr. Peter Zage, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Cancer Hospital at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.


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