Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have received two grants from the Sohn Conference Foundation to advance their investigation into how cancer spreads in children.
Dr. David Lyden, the Stavros S. Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Cardiology and a professor of pediatrics, Dr. Haiying Zhang, an assistant professor of cell and developmental biology in pediatrics, both of Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. Michael Berger, associate director of the Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, will receive a $600,000 grant from the foundation to fund three years of research isolating and characterizing tumor cell-derived “packages” called exosomes.
These packages, shed by pediatric cancer tumors, carry proteins and nucleic acids such as RNA or DNA, and circulate through the body to distant tissues. Dr. Lyden hopes that by characterizing the exosomes, his team can determine which cancers will metastasize — and where — in these cancer patients. The team’s investigation could also lead to the establishment of new biomarkers and targeted therapies for pediatric cancer patients, plus an improved understanding of metastasis in all cancers.
“It will also help us identify novel biological macromolecules including proteins, lipids and genes as therapeutic targets,” Dr. Lyden said. “If we learn something in the pediatric cancer setting, it could help us learn more about other cancers.”
The team also received a $100,000 equipment grant from the Sohn Foundation to fund the upgrading of an instrument that has the unique capacity to separate nanoparticles and is further adapted and optimized to separate the components of tumor exosomes with a higher resolution and a rate faster than the previous equipment.
The Sohn Conference Foundation funds pediatric cancer research, technology and programs to target cures and improve patient care.