Childhood Cancer

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Development and Characterization of Novel Models of Human Osteosarcoma Development and Metastasis

University of Minnesota
Beau Webber, PhD
Grant Type: 
Young Investigator Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Project Description: 


Osteosarcoma is the most common cancer of the bone in children and adolescents, with approximately 900 new cases annually in the United States. It occurs largely in growing adolescents and young adults, with the highest incidence at the age of 15-19-years-old. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation remain the most common therapeutic interventions but are associated with significant side effects that negatively impact patient quality of life. A better understanding of the genetic mechanisms and underlying biological events involved in the initiation and development of osteosarcoma would pave the way for development of new therapies. However, effective models of human osteosarcoma initiation and development are not available and thus these fundamental questions go unanswered. 

Project Goal:

The current proposal will implement cutting edge technologies in the area of pluripotent stem cell-based tissue engineering to replicate bone formation in a dish, and couple this strategy with advanced methods for genome engineering to model mutations that are suspected to promote the formation of osteosarcoma. This system will represent a novel and highly impactful platform for functional studies elucidating the mechanisms underlying human osteosarcoma initiation, development, and metastasis. Additionally, while the current proposal focuses on osteosarcoma, in theory our pluripotent stem cell-based platform can be used to model cancers derived from nearly any tissue type.  Consequently, the proposed research has far reaching implications for the way all human cancers are studied and will undoubtedly foster the development of clinically relevant therapeutic interventions.

Co-funded by: 
Northwestern Mutual Foundation