STING Pathway Activation: The Missing Link between Genomic Instability and Antitumor Immunity in Osteosarcoma
University of California San Francisco
Elizabeth Young, MD
Young Investigator Grants
Type of Childhood Cancer:
Osteosarcoma is a bone tumor occurring most often in children and young adults. These patients have a 5-year survival rate of less than 20% if the cancer has spread to distant sites at the time of diagnosis. Unfortunately, the remaining 80% of these patients are suspected to have spread of the cancer which is undetectable. The treatment strategy for this disease has not seen significant improvement in 30 years, and there is no specific treatment to target tumors that have spread throughout the body. These distant tumors, particularly those in the lung, are responsible for causing the death of most patients with osteosarcoma. Therefore, understanding how and why these tumors spread to distant sites and learning how to target them is vital to extending the lives of patients. New treatments to be used concurrently with the standard chemotherapy to help prevent the cancer from spreading are desperately needed in pediatric osteosarcoma.
In our laboratory, a major goal is to identify factors that control the spread of osteosarcoma so that we can help develop new therapies to extend the lives of patients. We use the genetic information found in patient tumors that have spread to distant sites to learn more about how the cancer cells are able to travel and grow in new locations. Using this information, we can modify the osteosarcoma cells in specific ways to see whether this will change their ability to spread. Currently, we are investigating whether osteosarcoma cells block the activation of one part of the patient’s immune system, protecting the cancer cells from an immune attack and allowing them to spread. Our project goal is to determine how several different modifications will affect the ability of osteosarcoma cells to spread. Our work has the potential to uncover new targeted therapies, including immunotherapies, which could benefit patients suffering with this devastating disease.