Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Osteosarcoma Symposium in Houston

Earlier this month, I had the distinct honor of participating in an international osteosarcoma symposium organized by one of the pioneers of our field, Dr. Norman Jaffe. Entitled “Progress from the Past, Prospects for the Future,” the meeting took place at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Participants included surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists and laboratory scientists from around the world, as well as patients, parents, and patient advocates.

Dr. Jaffe asked me to speak about the possible role of immunotherapy in osteosarcoma treatment. It was an honor to have been invited, and it was a pleasure to be given the opportunity to discuss my thoughts on what the future of osteosarcoma therapy might include.

So what happened? Dr. Bruland, from Norway, gave an excellent presentation on his work demonstrating that small deposits of osteosarcoma cells might lie dormant in patients’ bone marrow, and that these cells might play a key role in disease relapse. Osteosarcoma is not thought of as a disease that typically involves bone marrow, so if true, this could change the way we go about hunting for sites of disease in our patients as well as changing our understanding of how cancer cells survive therapy to cause relapse.

Dr. Gorlick, from Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, provided a comprehensive overview of the basic biology of osteosarcoma, providing a framework for future laboratory research that might one day yield new targeted therapies. Dr. Hughes, from our host institution, MD Anderson, discussed his work on one particular biological pathway (called the Notch signaling pathway) that might be important for the development of metastatic disease. There are already drugs available that target this pathway, so the prospect of intervening in this process is tantalizingly close.

Another highlight of the trip for me was the opportunity to see relatives of some of my patients and their families in a context outside of the Pediatric Oncology Clinic.

(everything is bigger in texas!)

Of course, no trip is all work and no play. I’ve never been to Houston, so I tried to squeeze in time to explore the city. I got to visit the (very avant-garde) Contemporary Arts Museum, as well as the sculpture garden across from the Fine Arts Museum (thankfully on a bright sunny day).

(a piece from the sculpture garden)

And the sushi at Azuma was incredible. If you’re ever in Houston, I highly recommend it!

The proceedings of this symposium will be published by Springer in the very near future for those of you who are interested in learning more.

(psychedelic cow guarding the Texas Children's Hospital)


outre said...

I love the phrase 'tantalizingly close'... it just sounds more tangible that way.

Hoping I get to goto TX one day... I missed going to a professional conference in Austin and wish I hadn't. (Didn't miss New Orleans though!) That's one of the things I like about the prof. association I belong to. Our conferences are at different location every year, so I've been able to visit states I'd never have otherwise.

Anonymous said...

i keep reading and hearing that with lung metastases from osteosarcoma that survival rates are around 20%. yet all the people we know with lung metastases seem to be dying. i haven't run across anyone who has beaten lung metastases from osteosarcoma. if you know anyone who has survived lung metastases from osteosarcoma, could you ask them to contact me. my son has been undergoing treatment for a few months now, and we would just feel a little better if we could actually talk to a lung metastasis survivor. so far we have seen none go into remission so we are beginning to doubt the studies.

Doctor David said...

One of my first posts was about a patient of mine whose osteosarcoma relapsed in his lungs. He has done very well and is now disease-free for more than 5 years. If you email me contact information, I'll try to put the patient in touch with you. He has spoken with others in the past for me.

bini said...

Dr. David,

Can you please give me the contact of your patient with lung metastases, who survived for 5 years. My niece was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and the picture is grim.