Rein in Sarcoma’s Board approved a research grant to the 2021 University of Minnesota at its January meeting. The number of grants were reduced based on buget decisions made in the spring of 2020. The University solicited requests for funding proposal from their researchers, blindly ranked them according to national standards, and recommended the proposal by Dr. Modiano, School of Veterinary Medicine to the RIS Research Committee.
We are pleased to fund this research, and look forward to a presentation on findings at the Sarcoma Research Symposium in 2023. Dr. Modiano has received Rein in Sarcoma research funding in prior grants. He shares with us, “The data from our previous Rein in Sarcoma grants has helped us secure almost $6M in external grants for sarcoma research from the federal government (NIH and DOD), the state of Minnesota, and animal health foundations. These grants have been instrumental in helping us to complete work that is reported in numerous peer reviewed scientific articles as well as in lay articles. We are extremely proud of our return on investment from this meritorious program.” Congratulations and thank you for your research Dr. Modiano and Dr. Sarver!
Identifying and Characterizing the Cells that Create the Primary and Metastatic Sarcoma Niche | $50,000
Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD – Principle Investigator, Professor of Veterinary Medicine & Research
Aaron Sarver, PhD – Co-Investigator, UMN Medical School Assistant Professor Institute for Health Informatics
Sarcomas, or tumors of connective tissues, are challenging to treat because they tend to invade deep into tissues. This behavior makes it virtually impossible to remove all of the cancer even with very aggressive treatments. But some sarcomas pose even greater challenges because they spread to organs far from the primary tumor. In these tumors, the distant spreading, called metastasis, is the eventual cause of death for patients.
Primary tumors of bone (osteosarcomas) and of blood vessels (angiosarcomas) are two highly metastatic sarcomas. The assumption with these cancers is that malignant cells have already spread by the time they are diagnosed. Because of this, patients receive extremely intensive therapies that can have severe side effects. Even so, more than half of patients with bone cancer and with blood vessel cancers die from their disease within about 10 and 3 years, respectively. For bone cancer, a 10-year survival might seem acceptable, were it not for the fact that this cancer mostly affects children, adolescents and young adults. It is well accepted that osteosarcomas and angiosarcomas spread through the blood circulation. This has led many investigators to search for tumor cells in the blood. We pioneered this approach for angiosarcoma almost two decades ago. But recent technological improvements provide opportunities to understand how and why the tumor are able to travel to distant sites. In addition, we are now able to find the chaperones that help them colonize new organs and create homes where they can thrive.
Osteosarcomas and angiosarcomas are quite rare in people. On the other hand, both are very common in dogs. We have shown that studying these diseases in dogs can help us better understand, diagnose, and potentially manage them in people. Here, we will use the same approach, studying tumor cells in the circulation of dogs with osteosarcoma and angiosarcoma. We will apply a technology called single cell sequencing. We have already developed methods to find and recover these cells from simple blood samples. Our goal is to determine how tumor cells and their chaperones alter their behavior to support the process of metastasis. The information we obtain from this project will support grant applications to the NIH, DOD, and other agencies. This line of work will help us to identify the cells that are responsible for sarcoma metastasis. In turn, the results will guide development of tests for early detection and to monitor disease progression. And finally, our efforts will provide insights to design new, safe and effective therapies to manage or prevent metastasis.
The Rein in Sarcoma Board of Directors met on Monday, January 25. We express our gratitude to departing board members Dr. L Chin Soo Cho and Linda Pomeroy for their leadership over the past three years. In turn, we welcome three new members: Dr. Stephanie Terezakis, Aaron Halbe and Dr. John Charlson. They bring a wealth of management and medical experience to our organization as we expand our work into Wisconsin. Read more about our new members.
We continue to grow our mission wider and deeper to support sarcoma education, patient support, and research funding. The Board approved a 2021 budget of $540,000. We look to build our volunteer relationships, support gatherings, provide a new regional patient support page, update the Patient Starter Notebook, redesign the Rein in Sarcoma website, and support expansion of the Electronic Medical Record Best Practice Alert. Read about the research grant to the University of Minnesota approved by the Board.
Stay tuned to learn more about the rollout of our new programs and services, as well as information on the Rare Cancer Research Act. Together we continue to increase awareness and increase the odds of surviving sarcoma!
Get involved in 2021! Attend an event and volunteer with Rein in Sarcoma. Please call the office at (763) 205-1467, or sign up online to volunteer.
Please Save these Dates:
Tuesday, June 8 Sarcoma Research Classic at Edinburgh USA Golf Course
*Monday, July 26 Party in the Park
*Sunday August 22 Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course Research Fundraiser, The Little Thistle, Rochester MN
*Thursday, October 7 Fall Fundraiser at Metropolitan Ball Room, Golden Valley MN
*We are staying flexible to modify events in order to keep our community safe!
Dr. John Charlson, is Associate Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Division of Hematology and Oncology, specializing in sarcoma. He graduated from the University of Iowa, College of Medicine in 1999, and then completed an internal medicine residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated hospitals, serving as chief resident. He completed his fellowship in oncology in 2007, and is board certified in medical oncology. Dr. Charlson is the Medical College of Wisconsin's Principal Investigator for several sarcoma clinical trials.
Aaron Halbe is a Director of Finance at UnitedHealthcare. After graduating college, he worked as an organic chemist, manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients in exploratory chemotherapy treatments. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in business, joined UnitedHealth Group and for the last 12 years has worked in the Corporate Development, Medicaid and Medicare businesses helping the company drive innovation in healthcare. Aaron’s family has a strong connection to healthcare, with multiple family members working in the industry, including his wife, who is a nurse of 15 years, who has worked in hematology/oncology, the ICU, and current works in cardiology.
Dr. Stephanie Terezakis, University of Minnesota Chair of Radiation Oncology, focuses her clinical practice on pediatric cancers, hematologic malignancies including lymphoma, as well as musculoskeletal tumors. Her clinical and translational research incorporates advanced diagnostic radiology techniques into the radiation treatment planning of cancers to minimize long-term side effects and improve efficacy of treatment. She is also an active investigator of stereotactic body radiation therapy techniques in pediatric and adult tumors. Dr. Terezakis is a leader within the Children's Oncology Group that develops and runs national clinical trials for children with cancer as well as multiple national committees that establish the standard of care for cancer treatment.