Two-Year NIH Grant To Support Ongoing Collaboration With Research Facilities Across Texas

On April 1, 2021, a grant from National Institute of Health (NIH), in a combined effort with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, was awarded to a collaborative project led by Rutledge Cancer Foundation with Co-Principal Investigators Gregory Aune, MD, PhD of UT Health/ GCCRI of San Antonio, Texas and Jason Yustein, MD, PhD of the Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

The award supports an ongoing effort initiated by the Rutledge Cancer Foundation in collaboration with Qana Therapeutics (Austin, Texas), Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (GCCRI, San Antonio, Texas), Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas) and UNT Health Science Center (Fort Worth, Texas), which aims to develop novel treatments for Ewing sarcoma with minimal side effects, especially cardiovascular. 

The team will utilize novel nanoparticle technology funded by Rutledge Cancer Foundation and developed by Qana Therapeutics and Dr. Andras Lacko of UNT Health Science Center, to selectively deliver novel cytotoxic chemotherapies directly to Ewing sarcoma tumors with high expression of SR-B1, which is a receptor or protein that is located on the surface of the tumor cell.

More importantly, preliminary studies in the lab have shown little to no cardiac toxicity in young mice.

During the two-year grant, the team hopes to generate critical data needed for early phase patient clinical trials. Additionally, the plan is to further develop this approach utilizing next generation therapies, such as small molecules and nucleic acids, to treat sarcomas and other solid tumor cancers more effectively with less toxicity. 

What does this mean for Ewing sarcoma patients? 

Ewing sarcoma’s 40-year-old chemotherapy regimen remains a significant contributor to mortality and long-term cardiovascular complications in adolescent and young adult cancer patients. The goal of this project is to bring less toxic, more curative cancer treatments to pediatric and young adult patients.