Stop Children's Cancer / Kimberly H. Flaitz Research Grant

Dr. Matthew Cascio: Developing a tumor vaccine for Osteosarcoma

In 2018, Stop Children's Cancer Research Grant was awarded to Dr. Cascio who continues working on two specific projects related to osteosarcoma in dogs. Osteosarcoma is the same in dogs as is in humans. Most dog owners are very willing to try anything that will help extend their pet's life span if it can be done while providing good quality of life. While beneficial to the dogs, this research is also very important to improve the outcome of children with Osteosarcoma.

Sugar / Protein Hybrid

Dr. Cascio is working with Dr. Rowan Milner on a vaccine to target molecules expressed on osteosarcoma called GD2 and GD3 (for ganglioside 2 and 3, a type of sugar/protein hybrid). Larger dogs get these tumors naturally. These tumors are fast growing and fatal. The recommended standard treatment of care for the dog owner is to have the veterinarian remove the tumor(s) and then have the dog receive chemotherapy. This form of treatment only gives the dog a small amount of additional time. Adding the vaccine at least doubles the life span of these family dogs with minimal side effects.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells

Dr. Cascio is working on developing Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells (CART) to GD2 and GD3. These genetically engineered T-cells have not yet been tested in dogs, but the hope is that they can also fight Osteosarcoma and prolong the life of the dogs, again, with little side effects. If effective in dogs the hope is that this technology will also be beneficial to children with Osteosarcoma.

Needed Funding for Future Development

Childhood Osteosarcoma cure rate percentages have not improved, and currently, 1 in 4 children die from this disease. Because Dr. Cascio's research is very promising and Clinical Trials are expensive, a minimum of $2 million is needed to bring his findings to the FDA for approval and begin Clinical Trials in humans. Due to FDA regulations, Clinical Trials in children will only begin after the technologies are first shown to be safe in adults. We are very excited about these promising new technologies to cure Osteosarcoma!!