When any cancer patient has a relapse, it’s bad news. For kids with osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer, a relapse is devastating, greatly reducing the chance for a cure. But thanks to a great new research project and a group of driven funders, there’s hope on the horizon.
The Helping Osteosarcoma Patients Everywhere (HOPE) Super Grant, a $1.5 million research project which began on October 1, 2023, is led by Dr. Mitchell Cairo at New York Medical College. The goal of the grant is to develop novel combinatorial immunotherapy that will significantly increase the overall survival in children and adolescents with relapsed osteosarcoma.
This grant is made possible by a remarkable partnership, originally intended to be five supporters, each giving $100,000 a year for three years. The first four partners to sign up were: Battle Osteosarcoma, the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund of Children’s Cancer Research Fund, the Faris Foundation, and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is administering the award.
Joining to make up the fifth partnership slot are two supporters closely tied to the project, each contributing $50,000 a year: the Children’s Cancer Fund NY, which supports New York Medical College, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a research collaborator for the grant, which will cover that amount of research conducted at its institution.
Children, adolescents, and young adults with relapsed osteosarcoma have a very poor prognosis, with an estimated 6-month overall survival of less than 5%. It’s likely that this extremely poor survival rate is because at the time of relapse, most patients have developed resistance to chemotherapy and radiation.
Novel and innovative treatments are desperately needed for these patients.
Enter the Pediatric Ohio-New York Cancer (Peds-ONC) Immunotherapy Center, and Drs Mitchell Cairo, Dean Lee, and Gregory Behbehani. This group of researchers have been working hard over the past four years to develop new and improved ways to treat pediatric solid tumors by using immunotherapy, clever viruses, and combinations of treatments in clinical trials to help children with solid tumors.
With the HOPE Super Grant, they will build on this research to develop novel and innovative approaches to overcome the commonly seen treatment resistance in relapsed osteosarcoma patients. The aim is to see a significant increase in the overall survival of kids with relapsed osteosarcoma.
The researchers are using special immune cells (NK – or natural killer – cells) that are trained to fight against certain proteins found in osteosarcoma and combining these immune cells with other treatments, including an antibody (dinutuximab) and a virus that helps the immune system. Substances that boost the immune response will also be added to see if it helps even more.
Since this protocol may not work for every patient, examining the genes and the immune system of patients who don’t respond well to this combination of treatments will also be an important part of the research so that new approaches to treating those patients can be developed.
Interested in teaming up with St. Baldrick’s to support a specific type of research? Please contact Becky Chapman Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, to explore possibilities. Email email@example.com or call 626.792.8247, ext. 212.
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