Doxorubicin is known as “The Red Devil”. With its reddish tint and devastating short and long-term side effects, the nickname suits it well. The most disturbing effect of this drug is cardiotoxicity, leaving many young cancer survivors with a progressively and permanently weakened heart.
When a patient is treated for Ewing Sarcoma, they receive a lifetime dose of Doxorubicin, meaning they can never have it again. They receive as much as a body can handle as their frontline therapy…..and that’s the best we’ve got.
This life-time limit of the drug also removes it from the possibility for use with other drugs in a relapse protocol. It’s likely Doxorubicin could work synergistically, and in lower doses, with a newer drug in a relapse situation. But because of the life-time limit, it’s just not an option.
With full funding from SDF, Dr. Beth Lawlor’s team will test some early data suggesting a different drug might be just as effective as Doxorubicin, but without doing damage to the heart. This project will test a combination of two drugs hypothesized to kill Ewing Sarcoma cells while avoiding damage to the heart. If successful, young people could survive without the life-altering consequences of Doxorubicin.
Dr. Lawlor has a track record of partnering with scientists who specialize in complementary areas of research – one of the reasons why we continue to support her work. Dr. Jay Sarthy, MD, PhD studies how the epigenome controls expression of normal and cancer causing genes. Dr. Olsen is unraveling how changes in cardiac energy production affect heart function. With SDF support, they will tackle this very intriguing question with potential to get rid of an old and very damaging drug for kids.