Baylor College of Medicine Researcher Awarded Grant to Examine the Body's Immune System in Search of Treatments for Osteosarcoma, a Childhood Cancer with Low Survival Rates


For Immediate Release:
May 7, 2013
 
Contact:
Shelby Gosnell
Shelby.Gosnell@CureSearch.org
240-235-2205

Bethesda, MD - Meenakshi Hegde, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine, was awarded a $100,000 grant to study the body’s immune system designed to identify new treatments. The grant, awarded by CureSearch for Children's Cancer, is part of the Young Investigators Program that fund research focused on the highest risk and poorest outcome cancers in children.

Osteosarcoma is a primary bone cancer affecting approximately 400 children and adolescents in the United States each year. Current treatment for this cancer is usually extensive surgery followed by chemotherapy. Even with aggressive treatment, the survival rate is just 60-70%.

The job of the body's immune system is to fight off disease, in this case, cancer. Thus, when an abnormal, or mutated, cell is created, the body should recognize it as different from the rest and eliminate it. When that doesn't happen, diseases occur.

Researchers know that in osteosarcoma, the cancerous cells contain proteins that should not be present and that these proteins cause the tumors to grow. Presence of these proteins varies from tumor to tumor and sometimes within a single tumor. Dr. Hegde hypothesizes that killing tumor cells using T-cells which are in the body's immune system that recognize a single protein will result in the survival of tumor cells that do not express the protein that leads to tumor recurrence after therapy. Dr. Hedge plans to engineer T-cells, that are designed to target the two proteins most commonly expressed in osteosarcoma, with the goal of decreasing the risk of tumor recurrence.

Dr. Hegde's work builds on a previously proven model in which a single molecule expressed on T-cell targets two different proteins and on a Phase I and Phase II clinical trial already underway. If successful, Dr. Hegde's work will pave the way for the creation of new immunotherapies for recurrent/metastatic osteosarcoma.

CureSearch is currently funding 12 Young Investigators focused on cancers with the highest risk and poorest outcomes, who are also individuals with the potential to make noteworthy advancements in children's cancer research. Young Investigators, like Dr. Hegde, are in the early stages of their scientific careers and are located at universities, research institutions, and hospitals throughout the United States.

Dr. Hegde is an instructor of pediatrics – hematology/oncology at Baylor College of Medicine and a physician at the Texas Children's Cancer Center, which is a joint program of BCM and Texas Children's Hospital.

To learn more about Dr. Hegde and the Young Investigator program, visit www.curesearch.org/young-investigator-program.


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CureSearch for Children's Cancer is a national non-profit foundation whose mission is to fund and support targeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurable results, and is the authoritative source of information and resources for all those affected by children's cancer. CureSearch raises funds for promising research conducted at more than hospitals in the United States and through the CureSearch Investigational Research Initiative, funds basic, translational and clinical research that offers the greatest potential to design treatments and improve outcomes for children with difficult-to-treat cancers.

Christine Bork
Email Christine
(240) 235-2208



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