Programs: In 2008, we are planning on funding the following research program - through a variety of initiatives. We are also developing a Kid's Program and to date have distributed 15 books to children with sarcoma in hospitals.
What is the problem
One of the biggest questions in sarcoma treatment is accurately diagnosing the type of sarcoma and its aggressiveness. This is important because more specific and accurate pathology translate into better treatment plans. Being able to reliably and consistently diagnose the cancer is the first major step toward a reliable and consistent set of solutions. A team of world-class experts couldn't agree on a single diagnoses nor provide one recommendation based on a clear set of data to our founder.
What does the solution look like?
It requires establishing a link between the biology of sarcoma cells and their associated patient outcomes. Such a link is called a correlation. With this information, scientists will better understand the biologic factors that help predict patient outcomes. This is what Dr. Amreen Husain and her team would like to do, with your help.
Specifically, how is this done?
These biologic factors are called histopathologic criteria. Histopathology is the microscopic study of diseased tissue. It reveals the types of cells present in abnormal tissue and permits accurate diagnosis, including a measure of the aggressiveness of the disease. The analysis results in a list of histopathologic criteria. Today, for sarcoma, these criteria are insufficient. It is common for a patient to get as many recommendations as there are physicians that studied their pathology slides. This can be dangerous as the histopathologic criteria assist the clinician in deciding on the best course of action.
In order to gain such a deep understanding, scientists need a lot of examples - eg. a lot of sarcoma cell samples with associated clinical information. Using gene and protein microarrays, researchers can study the biology of these cells and see if histopathologic patterns appear for any given clinical outcome.
How will this help patients?
A large study such as this one really has the potential to have a large impact on the future of sarcoma research and eventually clinical care.
1) It tells us which biologic factors are relevant to the clinical outcome - scientists won't waste time on the ones that aren't.
2) It tells us to what extent each biologic factor can be associated with a given outcome. The factors that most strongly correlate with a bad outcome will make ideal targets for future treatments.
The information will also help oncologists make treatment recommendations - the more aggressive the cancer, the more aggressive the treatment.
This work has been done for other types of cancer but there are no large and comprehensive tissue banks with clinical information for sarcoma. One of the goals of the project coordinated at Stanford is to expand tissue collection, banking and analysis of all types of sarcoma to help physicians better predict clinical outcomes.
- 20% of childhood cancers are sarcomas. They affect also many young adults. Sarcoma destroys so many lives before they have had time to blossom.
- Sarcoma gets less than 1% of cancer research funds - this is not enough. Sarcoma research is years behind compared to that for other cancers.
This is the situation we would like to change - and reestablish a working cycle between basic research => transational research => clinical research (often funded by the industry). The middle link seems broken for sarcoma.
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