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Pediatric Specialty Updates

October 2016

New targets for osteosarcoma identified

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota researcher Branden Moriarity, PhD, partnering with researchers in the lab of David Largaespada, PhD, have identified genes that, when altered, lead to the development of osteosarcoma. The finding could provide a greater understanding of the disease and offer targets for future therapies. The gene SEMA4D has been found to be expressed in high levels in more than half of all osteosarcomas in humans and appears to cause human osteosarcomas to grow rapidly. Moriarity and his colleagues are testing an antibody against SEMA4D in models using laboratory mice. The research seeks to discover whether the antibody could inhibit the expression of SEMA4D or alternately, whether the antibody might cause the immune system to recognize and attack SEMA4D. Emily Greengard, MD, will be leading a national phase I study, to evaluate use of this antibody for patients with sarcoma.

Study tests new chemotherapy

University of Minnesota Health physician Emily Greengard, MD, leads a phase I trial to study the side effects and the best dose of crizotinib given together with chemotherapy in treating younger patients with relapsed or refractory solid tumors or anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Crizotinib may stop the growth of tumors or cancer cells by blocking some of the pathways needed for cell growth. Drugs used in chemotherapy, such as cyclophosphamide, topotecan hydrochloride, doxorubicin hydrochloride, and vincristine sulfate, work in different ways to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.

Minnesota’s only COG phase I hospital

Pediatric sarcoma researchers at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital are leaders in the National Institute of Health-designated Children’s Oncology Group (COG). Among over 225 sites nationwide, 21 COG facilities have been competitively selected as sites that can deliver and evaluate phase I and pilot studies that assess new agents, therapies, or approaches to treating children with cancer. Brenda Weigel, MD, is chair of the COG Phase I program, and Dr. Emily Greengard is the lead of the hospital's COG Phase I program that determines which early-phase clinical studies will test the newest drugs for the first time in children.

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