Zebrafish vs. Ewing’s Sarcoma
James Amatruda, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, has received generous support from Curing Kids’ Cancer and Kevin’s Ewing’s Sarcoma Fund for his research on Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer found in children and adolescents. He is using an innovative zebrafish genetic system to understand how the Ewing’s Sarcoma protein EWS-FLI1 turns a normal cell into a cancer cell.
After losing their 9-year-old son Killian to leukemia, Grainne and Clay Owen founded Curing Kids’ Cancer in 2004 to support novel research and treatments for childhood cancer. "I just couldn't stand by and watch more children and their families go through the agony that we faced," Mrs. Owen said. "We have to find the most promising treatments for pediatric cancer and bring them from the laboratory to the bedside." Since officially becoming a charity in 2005, Curing Kids’ Cancer has raised more than $2,250,000 for childhood cancer research projects all over the United States.
The Owens were introduced to Dr. Amatruda’s research by Jennifer Weir, co-founder of Kevin’s Ewing’s Sarcoma Fund. Through unique fundraising events and programs, including a golf tournament sponsored by CFO4Life, Curing Kids’ Cancer has given UT Southwestern nearly $100,000 to support childhood cancer research.
Earlier this year, Dr. Amatruda also received a $35,000 gift from Kevin’s Ewing’s Sarcoma Fund. Kevin Weir, who is now 14 years old, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma when he was only 5 years old. After Kevin received treatment at Children’s Medical Center, the Weirs felt a passionate commitment to fund Ewing’s sarcoma research in hopes of finding a cure for this devastating disease. “It has been a very rewarding experience working with Dr. Amatruda,” Mrs. Weir said. “We feel so fortunate that we have him in our corner.” Since 2006, Kevin’s Ewing’s Sarcoma Fund has given more than $300,000 to research efforts at UT Southwestern.
Childhood cancer research is chronically underfunded. Without the support of organizations like Curing Kids’ Cancer and Kevin’s Ewing’s Sarcoma Fund, Dr. Amatruda’s novel project would not be possible.
“It is a privilege to work with these wonderful children and their families,” Dr. Amatruda said. “They constantly inspire us to come back to the lab and work harder for a cure.”
But Dr. Amatruda’s ultimate goal is to reach the point where raising money for research is no longer necessary, because a cure for Ewing’s sarcoma will have been found.