Detection of Circulating Tumor DNA in Pediatric Sarcomas
An exciting new development in cancer research is the realization that tumor cells release DNA into the blood of patients and that this circulating tumor DNA can be detected and measured. This so-called "liquid biopsy" has the potential to revolutionize the way we monitor treatment in many pediatric cancers, especially solid tumors. Among the most difficult to treat solid tumor are pediatric sarcomas, in which survival after relapse or with metastasis is very poor. The three most common types of pediatric sarcomas are Osteosarcoma, Rhabdomyosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma. Currently, these diseases are treated with a combination of surgery (or sometimes radiation) and chemotherapy. Monitoring of disease response to therapy and surveillance to detect relapse are done using imaging studies (i.e. CT scans).
We will develop a rapid, non-invasive test to monitor treatment response and detect relapse in these three types of sarcomas. We anticipate that this assay will be particularly helpful to assess response to targeted therapies in patients with relapsed disease as it will allow for "sampling" of all metastatic sites at one time (since all of these should contribute to the "pool" of circulating tumor DNA).