Childhood sarcoma is a type of cancer characterized by tumors in the nerves, muscles or bones. It is particularly prevalent in Indiana, where places such as Johnson County have a higher than average rate of childhood sarcomas. The IU Precision Health Initiative’s childhood sarcoma research team is planning to launch a clinical trial testing molecularly targeted maintenance therapy for metastasized sarcoma at the time of diagnosis. Unlike adults, children do not receive maintenance therapy after chemotherapy and surgery. The goal of the study is to develop curative therapies for rhabdomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma.
In addition, the Pediatric Precision Genomics clinic, established as a result of the Precision Health Initiative, allows IU researchers to test the DNA of every child at IU Health with aggressive or relapsed sarcomas. This enhanced capability, combined with the ability to assess a child’s RNA and proteomics, has led to the identification of a potentially useful FDA-approved treatment in greater than 90 percent of cases—up 20 percent since the launch of the Grand Challenge.