Cancers of childhood have unique pathobiology, including origins in developing or otherwise immature tissues, relative paucity of mutations, prominent epigenetic dysregulation, and clinically aggressive behavior, including early and frequent metastasis. These properties are typified by two of the most common sarcomas of childhood, Ewing Sarcoma and Rhabdomyosarcoma. Sarcomas are cancers arising in tissues of mesenchymal origin, such as the soft tissues (connective tissue and muscle) or bone. While exceedingly rare in adults, sarcomas account for ~15% of all cancers, and ~25% of solid (non-hematopoietic) cancers in children. A subset of sarcoma patients presenting without metastatic disease can be cured with multi-agent conventional chemotherapy. However, patients presenting with metastasis or recurrence face poor outcomes and currently have few viable treatment options. The need for understanding the biological basis of aggressive sarcoma behavior, including the strong propensity for metastatic spread, and development of better therapies based on this understanding, is high. This is the broad objective of our research, which focuses on the identification, understanding and targeting of disease-promoting mechanisms and pathways in pediatric sarcomas, including Ewing Sarcoma and Rhabdomyosarcoma.
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Pediatric pathology; Sarcoma biology and epigenetics.
Children’s Oncology Group; Cancer Epigenetics Society.