• Press Release
    • For Immediate Release

 

  • Media Contact:
    • Traci Johnson
    • 626.792.8247 ext. 250
    • traci@stbaldricks.org

St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Osteosarcoma Collaborative Partner to Fund Lifesaving Childhood Cancer Research

The $1.35 Million Dollar Grant will Support Osteosarcoma Research

CLEVELAND, Ohio (November 6, 2018) – At 16 years old, Olivia Egge loved to learn, travel, hang out with friends and dive competitively. Then she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare cancer that starts in the bone. This meant no travel, no diving and over 100 nights in the hospital. Her treatment plan consisted of rounds of intensive chemotherapy and limb salvage surgery – the standard treatment for the past 30 years. Olivia, along with her family, friends, and community are pushing for better treatment options and are proud to support the first Osteosarcoma Collaborative St. Baldrick’s Grant to Cure Osteosarcoma.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the Osteosarcoma Collaborative, two organizations with a goal to advance childhood cancer research, have partnered together to fund the 3-year grant for $1.35 million which will support the work of Alex Huang, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Theresia G. & Stuart F. Kline Family Foundation chair in pediatric oncology and director of pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship program at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Angie Fowler AYA Cancer Institute. Dr. Huang and his team will use this grant to develop new ways to treat osteosarcoma patients, like Olivia, by targeting molecules that evade immunity. His team of research-scientists is working to gain novel insights into how different cells of the immune system work within the metastatic osteosarcoma tumor sites in the lung tissue. By doing so, they will aim to create several immune-based clinical trials in the next 3 years to treat pulmonary metastatic osteosarcoma in pediatric and adolescent and young adult patients. The multi-disciplinary research team is composed of investigators from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, along with industry partners.

“Despite tremendous progress being made in many pediatric cancers, outcome for metastatic osteosarcoma has really not improved over the last few decades even with gallant efforts in optimizing conventional chemotherapies,” said Dr. Huang, who also serves as co-leader of the Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. “A new, ‘outside-of-the-box’ approach must be sought, and immunotherapy is one such approach. This award provides a giant leap toward this goal. It is a game changer.”

The Osteosarcoma Collaborative was founded by parents of kids diagnosed with osteosarcoma and was created to identify, collaborate and fund new research and treatments in pediatric and adult osteosarcoma and to educate the medical profession about long-term survivorship. The Osteosarcoma Collaborative partnered with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest charitable funder of childhood cancer research grants, because of its trusted and rigorous scientific peer-review process. Through this partnership, both organizations were able to provide the funding needed to advance Dr. Huang’s research to the next phase of testing.

“Our family is so grateful to our good friends, classmates and colleagues who contributed to this. Raising nearly $1 million this fast enabled an immediate effort to fund serious osteosarcoma research that starts now,” said Michael Egge, Olivia’s father and founding member of the Osteosarcoma Collaborative. “We are convinced it takes large meaty research grants to create meaningful change in a space that has been way too neglected in this country. Thanks also to St. Baldrick’s and the Osteosarcoma Collaborative for raising awareness, and especially to St. Baldrick’s which ran a rigorous scientific review process in essentially three months. Their leadership in supporting pediatric cancer research is simply outstanding. We have so much more work to do, and I hope this effort becomes a model for targeted research funding. This effort attracted 64 research proposals, underlining the need for research funding. Thank you all.”

This grant was made possible by the fundraising efforts of the “Shavers & Life Savers” St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event held in honor of Olivia Egge and John Benjamin Varney. John was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on Oct. 6, 2017 and met Olivia through his diagnosis. His treatment plan consisted of chemotherapy and three surgeries. Both Olivia and John were honored at this year’s head-shaving event where nearly 40 people went under the clippers, raising more than $628,000. To date, the fundraising event, held at Washington Golf and Country Club in Arlington, Va., has raised nearly $1 million to support the most promising osteosarcoma research.

“On behalf of my niece and god daughter, Caroline Richards, who passed away three years ago from osteosarcoma, along with the countless warriors and angels who have suffered from this horrible disease, we couldn’t be prouder of and thankful for the generosity of those who have supported this effort,” said Katherine Lugar, chair-elect of the St. Baldrick’s board of directors. “As we painfully learned, the treatments in place today are dated and often ineffective. Dr. Huang’s research, which is possible both through this grant and the commitment of St. Baldrick’s, presents a promising path to new cures. We are both encouraged and excited by the progress to date and will continue to work aggressively to raise the awareness and funding needed to drive more effective and compassionate treatments to cure osteosarcoma.”

About Osteosarcoma Collaborative
Bring together data, researchers, patients and families to find new cures for osteosarcoma. Through advocacy, fundraising, education and awareness regarding the disease, we will support new treatment options for patients with this extremely aggressive and often recurring disease.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is leading the charge to take childhood back from cancer. St. Baldrick’s funds some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best childhood cancer research, no matter where it takes place.

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