Research on using an immunotherapy approach to treating osteosarcoma by a Baylor College of Medicine pediatric oncologist is being supported by a $100,000 grant from the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Foundation.
Osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor in children and teenagers but unlike many other childhood cancers, the outcome for patients has not improved over the last two decades for patients with widespread disease, according to Dr. Stephen Gottschalk, associate professor of pediatrics at BCM and the Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
"Immunotherapy – using the patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer – has the potential to improve outcomes for patients with osteosarcoma who are not cured by current therapies and reduce treatment-related complications," said Gottschalk, who is also part of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at BCM, Texas Children’s Hospital and the Methodist Hospital.
The research will assess the anti-osteosarcoma activity of T cells that target a protein present on osteosarcoma cells called fibroblast activation protein, or FAP.
"In this project, we are evaluating several genetic approaches to render T cells specific for FAP and in preclinical models will optimize the anti-osteosarcoma activity of FAP-specific T cells," Gottschalk said. "At the end of the grant, we expect to have implemented a clinical study to evaluate our FAP-targeted T-cell therapy approach in patients with osteosarcoma."
Cookies for Kids' Cancer is a nonprofit founded by Gretchen and Larry Witt in honor of their son Liam who had pediatric cancer. The organization is committed to raising funds through cookie sales to support research for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer.