FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jo Anne Avelar
626-792-8247, ext. 221
LOS ANGELES (October 18, 2023) 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.
“We are proud to support osteosarcoma research by funding the HOPE Super Grant in partnership with organizations who share our goal to fight this devastating disease. We are committed to investing in osteosarcoma researchers who have the highest potential of making an impact for children with relapsed osteosarcoma.” – Battle Osteosarcoma
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.
“The Faris Foundation’s ethos to investing in research is to support research “as if our child’s life depends on it.” The HOPE grant is not just innovative, but it brings a community together to fund the best research that gives HOPE in a most challenging cancer. It is rigorous science and we are excited to follow the impact closely.” – Dr. Asha Virani, Faris Foundation
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.
“Recurrent osteosarcoma is a beast that steals the lives of too many children. We need the power of pooled money and dedicated researchers to discover new, clever treatments that will save lives. We are thrilled to be one of the partners of the HOPE Super Grant and to support the important work of Drs Mitchell Cairo, Dean Lee, and Gregory Behbehani.” – Laura Sobiech, Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund at Children’s Cancer Research Fund
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.
“By supporting the HOPE super grant, we know that we will be part of the innovative research that could change the way children with Osteosarcoma are treated all over the world. In our opinion, there is no better project to be part of than this one“ - Karen Wolownik, Children’s Cancer Fund.
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.
“So many advances in childhood cancer have come from research collaborations like this project led by Dr. Cairo. St. Baldrick’s is proud to play a role in helping foundations to collaborate, also. This is an exciting project and a great team of funders, and we look forward to what we’ll accomplish together!” – Becky Chapman Weaver, St. Baldrick’s Foundation
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.