One would like to think that tangibly better treatments for rhabdomyosarcoma, medulloblastoma and other childhood cancers can be found in a matter of years, instead of tens of years. Finding new treatments starts with research, perhaps even a new research approach to identifying effective new treatments. The Pediatric Preclinical Testing Initiative (at the Pediatric Cancer Biology Program, Pape' Family Pediatric Research Institute, Oregon Health & Science University) focuses on finding molecules in childhood cancers that can be directly turned off or on by drugs so that the tumor stops growing. Behind our novel approach is the use of genetically-engineered mice. Our Pediatric Preclinical Testing Initiative uses mice modified from before birth so that at a certain age, and in a certain tissue, the same mutations found in a child’s cancer are activated in the mouse. These special mouse models of childhood cancer can be used to test a treatment to see whether the tumor growth and spread (metastasis) can be reversed. The specific aspect of these mice having normal immune systems is a real plus, too, because white blood cells play an important role in how tumors evolve and respond to therapy.
Our program is designed around community participation. Through the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation at OHSU, you can contribute directly to this grass-roots initiative. Donations through small gifts or grants will assist in studying compounds that may be effective in treating such childhood cancers as alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, or medulloblastoma (the alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma model was featured by Dr. Keller's long time collaborator and former mentor, 2007 Nobel laureate Mario Capecchi, in his Nobel Prize lecture.) For example, a grant of $8500 enabled the PPTI to study a promising multi-kinase inhibitor in mice with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.
For additional information regarding supporting this program please contact Ms. Sue Nicol, Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation, at nicols(at)ohsu.edu . For additional information on this program, please contact PPTI leader Dr. Charles Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Results obtained through these studies will be shared with the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, as well as the Children’s Oncology Group, which designs clinical trials for childhood cancer.