Dr. Trucco's "Disulfram Trial" at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
SebastianStrong Foundation’s grant to Matteo Trucco, MD of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Miami, will test the safety and ability of adding Disulfiram to chemotherapy to overcome the resistance to chemotherapy seen in relapsed sarcomas. Metastases and relapses are the major cause of death from pediatric bone and muscle tumors (sarcomas). Current chemotherapy can kill the majority of sarcoma cells, but often some are able to survive the chemotherapy and give rise to new cancers (relapses) or spread throughout the body (metastasize). We have been using the same chemotherapy for pediatric sarcomas for decades. Sarcoma cells that express high levels of an enzyme called Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH) have proven to be resistant to chemotherapy. The drug Disulfiram, used safely for over 50 years for the treatment of alcoholism, blocks ALDH and laboratory tests have shown that it makes sarcoma cells more sensitive to chemotherapy. This is the first step in developing Disulfiram as a way to make current treatment more effective against pediatric sarcoma.
Dr. Leibowitz’s study, “Augmenting Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Induced Epitope Spreading for Pediatric Solid Tumors”
Dr. Leibowitz’s study, “Augmenting Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Induced Epitope Spreading for Pediatric Solid Tumors,” will look at the potential of an immunotherapy for solid tumors. Immunotherapy has been successful in certain pediatric blood cancers but is hard to replicate in non-blood cancers, like solid tumors. His project investigates a process called “epitope spreading” where cellular immunotherapy induces non-targeted cancer cells to die and triggers the immune system to react against cells that express different bio-markers. His project hopes to expand epitope spreading induced by reprogrammed immune cells in pediatric solid tumors, so that cellular immunotherapy may become a viable treatment option.
Dr. Rubens’ project, “Targeting Glutamine Metabolism in MYC Driven Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumors"
Dr. Rubens’ project, “Targeting Glutamine Metabolism in MYC Driven Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumors,” aims to target changes in tumor metabolism (how tumor cells generate energy) in an effort to improve survival rates in children with brain tumors. Cancer cells are more dependent on glutamine to generate energy to support their rapid growth while normal cells are more dependent on glucose for these metabolic needs. This difference in metabolism allows his lab to specifically target tumor cells with a medication called DON that blocks this glutamine metabolism. This medication has previously been used in humans and has been shown to be safe and well tolerated but has never been used to treat childhood brain tumors. The project aims to prove the preclinical efficacy of DON therapy with a plan to develop a new clinical trial at the completion of this research that will improve treatment for children suffering from brain tumors.
Scholarships to High School Seniors Pursuing STEM Careers
In order to further our mission of increasing awareness, this year SebastianStrong provided scholarships to talented high school seniors pursuing STEM careers. These young people exhibit strong leadership skills, a desire to serve others, and are pursuing degrees in the medical field.