Update on research project funded with a
$25,000 grant from the "I’m Not Done Yet Foundation”
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) Cleveland , Ohio
Liz Menges at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center AYA conference, Cleveland in November 2019
Lab of Alex Y. Huang, MD, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology, Biomedical Engineering and General Medical Sciences
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Director, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program, UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital
With generous support from the I’m Not Done Yet Foundation, Dr. Huang’s lab has been hard at work to research new and potentially more effective, less toxic therapies for children and teens battling sarcoma and other cancers. Their progress so far is summarized as follows:
In early summer 2019, Dr. Huang’s lab partnered with MedPacto, Inc. for access to an exciting new drug called Vactosertib, a well-tolerated pill that can potentially reverse the immune suppression caused by sarcomas. It is already currently in clinical trials for adult cancer patients. Dr. Huang’s laboratory has begun the initial stages of testing the effect of this drug in osteosarcoma. Dr. Huang’s group plans to test its efficacy in osteosarcoma either by itself or in combination with other immunotherapies.
Dr. Huang’s laboratory is also testing a new method of boosting the immune system by using the cryoablation approach in sarcoma including Rhabdomyosarcoma, another common type of pediatric and adolescent and young adult sarcoma. Cryoablation is a minimally invasive treatment that uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy diseased tissue, including cancer cells.
Thus far, the lab has spent about half the funds to purchase a large supply of fetal calf serum, an ingredient important for culturing tumor cells and for performing a variety of experiments. Having one batch of the same serum for all related experiments is critical because it enhances the quality and consistency of the lab results and allows for better cross verification on lab experiments among different laboratory personnel. The amount of fetal calf serum purchased is expected to supply the lab for approximately 12 months.
Dr. Huang’s lab was named the recipient of the 2019 “Make it Better Agent OutSmarting Osteosarcoma” grant by MIB Agents (an organization whose mission is to Make it Better for children with osteosarcoma), and received a $100,000 grant to test new ways for treating Osteosarcoma with immunotherapy approaches. As the grant recipient, Dr. Huang will deliver the keynote at their upcoming annual conference, FACTOR 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2020.
Dr. Huang and his colleagues have started a conversation with representatives at the Comparative Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to explore the opportunity of starting a canine osteosarcoma immunotherapy trial. They will present the data collected so far and then collaborate with NCI to compose a clinical trial using dogs afflicted with osteosarcoma in order to gain safety and efficacy data to support a future human clinical trial. Dogs frequently develop osteosarcoma, and the genetics of osteosarcoma in dogs are remarkably similar to human disease. Therefore, knowledge gained through a canine trial would be highly valuable for future therapies in humans. We envision a canine osteosarcoma immunotherapy trial to be conducted through their Comparative Oncology Clinical Consortium in the next 24-48 months.