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Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

Exciting news – Liz Scott, Alex’s mom, has been chosen as one of the mom bloggers on Working Mother’s website. Deemed “Lemonade Mom,” Liz will share some of her life experiences as a mom, as well as advice from time to time through this blog. Her first entry examined how she as a mother dealt with a child’s illness and how she listened to her instincts. Check out the beginning of her blog below, and click on the link for the blog in its entirety. Keep checking the Working Mother site for updates too!

Dealing with a child's illness,
and using your instincts as a mom


My daughter Alexandra "Alex" Scott was the second born of my four children. The only girl, Alex was special from the moment she came into the world. She had beautiful blue eyes, and though she was premature, she arrived at a healthy weight and went home soon after. The months following her birth were fairly uneventful, other than the fact that I was now juggling two children under the age of 1. It was only as time passed that I began to realize that something was not right with Alex. Alex’s older brother Patrick is less than a year her senior, and had not demonstrated any of the behaviors or symptoms that Alex was. If they weren’t so close in age, I am not sure I would have thought anything of it, but I took Alex to the pediatrician who advised me that she was fine. When we returned numerous more times, the doctor finally said “you have to come to the terms with the fact that you don’t have a happy baby.”

Read the complete story at WorkingMother.com
Figure legend: Shown is a chicken egg after using the Egg Topper. The membrane that lies under the shell is where we place fluorescent tumor cells to test their ability to move through blood and lymphatic vessels into the developing chick. Our hope is to find a number of drugs that slow or reverse the process of tumor cells metastasizing from one location to the next.


In 2008 we had an idea: we should try to identify drug treatments that help prevent the spread of tumor cells throughout the body, or at a minimum treat the cancer if it does spread. How could we go about doing this?

Tumor cells moving from one place in the body to another is a multi-step process. First, the tumor cell unattaches from its original location, Next it moves into a blood vessel or lymphatic channel and moves about the body. Finally the tumor cell exits the blood vessel and comes to rest at its final destination somewhere else in the body. Research of this complex process requires more than test tubes or petri dishes: for better or worse, this type of research needs to involve preclinical models (traditional research might use mice).

In 1962, Sidney Farber was investigating whether metastatic tumor cells from childhood cancer patients could move from the membrane under the shell of ordinary chicken eggs into the developing chick within the egg. This was a promising idea, as fertilized chicken eggs were inexpensive, and the assay (examination) takes only 12 days to complete. With over 45 years having passed since Farber’s investigation, and few pharmaceutical companies adopting this method to test anti-metastasis drugs, it seemed that many hurdles may lay ahead. This may have seemed like a high risk endeavor, but one that we believed in, and was embraced by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation through an Innovation Award.

To date, we have overcome most technical hurdles of the assay by adapting modern genetic tools, new biomaterials for encapsulating of tumor cells, and new advances in imaging technology. We’ve also begun testing some novel new therapeutic agents. Of them, we are most intrigued by the effects of drugs that inhibit the metabolism of fast-twitch (anaerobic) muscle, which seems to have a particularly strong effect on the less curable form of the childhood muscle cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma.

So where do we go from here? The traditional answer might be we select the promising agents from the egg screening tests, write NIH grants to propose testing these drugs on other preclinical models (the grant review process can take more than a year from start to finish), and then see whether it is reasonable or feasible to move these drugs to clinical trials. Yet there are also surprising opportunities, too, made possible by ALSF – who is arranging introductions to pharmaceutical companies to accelerate the testing of new drugs for childhood cancer. ALSF is an exciting catalyst for innovation and new paradigms. Through the efforts of a group like ALSF, change can be tangible.

For more information about our research, please visit our blog at http://kellerlabblog.blogspot.com/ .

Sincerely,

Charles Keller, MD
Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute

As you may know, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation recently announced our 1 Million Member Mission on our Facebook Cause. While we have seen a great response since that time, we thought offering an incentive wouldn’t hurt! An anonymous donor came forward and offered an Apple iPod touch 8GB for ALSF to award to the top recruiter one month from today (April 6, 2009). In addition to the top recruiter, every person who recruits over 50 friends will receive an official Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation t-shirt!

So from now until Monday, April 6, 2009 at 12PM EST, invite all of your friends, and then re-invite them until they join the ALSF cause. This is your chance to get the word out about childhood cancer, while also potentially winning an iPod!



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