Please bookmark this page and visit weekly for the latest updates!  Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare cancer of children, adolescents and young adults (and sometimes older adults).  There are two major subtypes, alveolar (ARMS) and embryonal (ERMS).  Rhabdomyosarcoma is particularly difficult to treat when it has spread to other parts of the body.  This process of spreading is called metastasis.  Why does rhabdomyosarcoma spread?  The answer may involvea protein called, Osteopontin.   Osteopontin is made by rhabdomyosarcoma tumor cells and shared in the tissue around the tumor cells.  It is thought that bringing blood vessels to the tumor cells is one way in which Osteopontin helps rhabdomyosarcoma to progress … but there may be other aspects to how osteopontin remodels the tissue “micro-environment”, and we aim to understand these changes.  This project is currently led by cc-TDI postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Alexandria (Ali) Harrold.       Please check back weekly to see our progress!  01/03/2018:  Defining the role of osteopontin in rhabdomyosarcoma tumor cells involves a bit of ‘push and pull’… that is, taking osteopontin away, then adding it back.  Our first approach for ARMS and ERMS has been to take osteopontin away completely, using a technology called CRISPR.  To study the effect another way, we are using a technology called shRNA (to turn osteopontin off in a matter of degrees rather than a simple on/off), and we will also turn osteopontin on using cDNA over-expression. These steps take a while… so bear with us as we move this aspect of the project forward!  The result of these genetic proof-of-concept studies will be the foundation for developing and testing drugs that aim to have the same effect as the genetic knockdowns.

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