Neuroblasts are immature nerve cells found in children that mature into nerve cells over time. As part of the sympathetic nervous system, they’re found all over the body – along the spine, in the abdomen, pelvis, chest and neck. Neuroblastoma is a cancer that occurs in these immature nerve cells, meaning that it typically affects children under five years of age and can develop in many different parts of the body.
While the long-term survival rate for children with neuroblastoma is just over 80%, intensive treatment programs at such a young age can cause long-term side effects like hearing loss, growth and brain development delays, infertility and an increased risk of other cancers in the future. Because of this, researchers at Garvan are investigating highly specific and personalised treatment options that target this disease without damaging healthy cells.