Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have published their work about a specific type of childhood cancer in the peer-reviewed, international oncology journal, Cancers.
This research involves a combination therapy that significantly slows tumour growth in models, which includes a model established from cells taken from tumours donated by Tyler Trent.
This is the first published manuscript that includes Trent's tumour model.
Trent was a Purdue University student and sports super fan who died on January 1, 2019, after waging a long and valiant fight against an aggressive form of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma.
In the publication's acknowledgments, the researchers dedicated the study to Trent's memory, saying they will always remember him for his courageous battle, his passion for cancer advocacy, and the generous donation of his tumour tissue for research.
"We are so proud to honour Tyler's legacy with this first publication, laying the foundation for future research to build upon," said Karen E. Pollok, PhD, who led the study. Pollok is an associate professor of paediatrics at IU School of Medicine.
"We still have more work to do, but are hopeful that new therapies for osteosarcoma will be possible as we learn more about how to block different tumours from growing."
The Precision Genomics team at Riley Children's Health found a genetic variation in Trent's tumours (named after him as TT1 and TT2) known as the MYC-RAD21 signature, which has been found in tumours that tend to recur.
Pollok said there are two drugs that can block its effects, a Chk1 inhibitor and a bromodomain inhibitor.
Her team tested each drug individually, as well as in combination.
They found that in models with the TT2 tumour, they could stop the tumours from growing by using one of the drugs individually, but using both drugs together blocked tumour growth substantially during a four-week treatment.
The research team also determined that the combination treatment was well-tolerated.
"This research is allowing us to forge a path to improving outcomes for children, adolescents and young adults with a very aggressive bone cancer," said Jamie Renbarger, MD, another one of the lead researchers.
Renbarger was one of Tyler's doctors and also leads the IU Precision Health Initiative paediatric sarcoma disease research team.
She is also the Caroline Symmes Professor of Paediatric Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine.
"We are hopeful that this program will lead the way in finding cures for more children."
The tumour started growing in the models again after stopping the therapy, leading researchers to consider next steps in their scientific process.
Future research topics will include learning to understand how the tumours adapt to treatments and finding ways to optimise the combination therapy.
"The findings and research going on with Tyler's tumour models is incredibly encouraging and comforting to Tony and I," said Kelly Trent, who is Tyler Trent's mother.
"It was at the core of who Tyler was to want to be used for good and to help at this capacity. We are so grateful for Dr. Pollok and Dr. Renbarger's work."
Trent was diagnosed with osteosarcoma for the first time when he was 15 years old. In the years that followed while he was a patient at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, he donated several tumour samples to cancer researchers at IU School of Medicine.
He also encouraged other people to do the same, becoming a national advocate for cancer research.
People have donated millions of dollars for cancer research in his name, including more than $189,000 for the Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment for Riley Hospital.
The Trent family and Riley Children's Foundation worked together to create the endowment fund, which supports paediatric research being conducted by IU School of Medicine researchers.