Funded by the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund
Osteosarcoma (OSA) is a bone cancer that mostly affects young people. Surgery and chemotherapy are the most common forms of treatment but can cause serious side-effects that make patients very ill. When a patient’s OSA has spread from the bone to the lungs it is much harder to treat. Recent research has shown that immune cells can be engineered to improve their ability to fight cancer. This approach has cured patients with certain blood cancers when all other previous therapies failed. However, this approach is less effective in “solid” cancers like OSA. We are pursuing a new approach where immune cells that naturally recognize mutated proteins in a patient’s tumor (TIL) are collected and grown to large numbers before returning them to the patient. This approach has achieved cures in several solid cancers, including those that have spread to other areas of the body including the lungs, but it is not always effective. In previous work, we found that disabling a gene called CISH allows TIL to kill cancer cells more effectively. We are currently testing this in a clinical trial in patients with gastrointestinal cancer. In the current proposal, our goal is to see if this approach can also be used to treat OSA. If successful, our approach may offer a curative option with far fewer side-effects compared to current therapies.