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9.11.2019

Sylvester Researchers Receive Grant from Hyundai Hope On Wheels

The $300,000 Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant, awarded to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, is helping to fund the future of precision medicine in pediatric patients with metastatic sarcoma.

Sarcoma is a type of cancer that typically occurs in the bone or soft tissue. Sarcomas can be seen in pediatric, adolescent and young adult patients, with a peak incidence in the adolescent and young adult population. There are more than 50 different subtypes of sarcomas, which require different treatment strategies, and it can be a particularly hard cancer to treat.

“This can be a very difficult cancer to control with current treatment options. The goal of our project is to be able to match the patient’s specific tumor to the treatment that demonstrates the greatest response in real time,” said the principal investigator, Warren Alperstein, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics.

The laboratory research will be conducted at the Center for Therapeutic Innovation led by Claes Wahlestedt, M.D., Ph.D. Ines Lohse, Ph.D., is the co-principal investigator for this project. “We believe the multi-disciplinary team of physicians and scientists will lay the foundation for the clinical implementation of our precision medicine platform for the treatment stratification of pediatric cancer patients at Sylvester,” Dr. Lohse said.

Researchers will take a piece of each tumor, extract cancer cells, and test 215 FDA-approved drugs to see which ones efficiently kill the individual patient’s cancer cells. They will be using a drug sensitivity testing platform developed at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and supported by Sylvester’s Molecular Therapeutics Shared Resource. This platform has already successfully tested patients with acute myeloid leukemia and is now being applied to sarcoma.

Since 2010, Hyundai Hope On Wheels, a non-profit organization supported by Hyundai and its U.S. dealers, has given Sylvester $700,000 in total research grants.

On September 10, in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the newest grant was presented to Dr. Alperstein and the research team during a ceremony in the Sylvester courtyard. Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., welcomed attendees and speakers including two teenagers treated at Sylvester, who are now in remission.

Several patients from alex’s place, Sylvester’s outpatient facility for children with cancer and blood disorders, placed their painted handprints on a Hyundai Hope On Wheels car and on Dr. Alperstein’s lab coat.

“ ‘Every handprint tells a story in the fight against pediatric cancer’ is the theme of our annual September initiative,” said John Fratianni, district sales manager for Hyundai Motor America. “This theme reflects the idea that there are many hands involved in the fight against pediatric cancer – patients, researchers, doctors, parents, supporters and more.”

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