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Anna Obenauf part of international consortium to study bone cancer

26 May 2022

An international team of scientists from the United States, Canada, and Austria has secured a grant by "Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation" to study the mechanisms of metastatic spread of osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that mostly affects children and young adults. The IMP’s Anna Obenauf is one of five scientists whose labs will collaborate on the project. 

Like most cancer tumours, bone cancers are not homogeneous, but comprise a variety of different cells. No two bone tumours are the same and within one tumour, it is likely each cell is different from the others. Due to this, treatment of osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, is difficult and has not improved in nearly four decades. A particular challenge represents the spread of osteosarcoma cells to the lung, and how fast tumours become resistant against conventional therapies.

An international consortium of scientists from the U.S., Canada, and Austria now aims to find out how bone tumour cells survive and metastasise in the body as they spread from the tumour of origin to find new entry points for therapies. This ambitious goal is funded by the non-profit organization "Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation" with more than three million Dollars as part of its "Crazy 8 Initiative" that aims at “curing the incurable”.

The team is led by Alejandro Sweet-Cordero of the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) and includes the lab of Anna Obenauf at IMP. Using the “molecular time machine” CaTCH, a technology recently developed by the lab of Anna Obenauf, the team aims to identify the cells that cause metastases and isolate these from the primary tumour to enable early intervention. The results will be used to study the molecular fingerprint of osteosarcoma that should provide leads on new drug development and clinical trials critically needed for children battling osteosarcoma.

“I am very excited that my lab is part of this important initiative,” says Anna Obenauf. "By bringing together researchers from different fields, we will tackle the problem of osteosarcoma metastasis from various angles. Together, we will get closer to our shared goal of improving the lives of these young patients and their families.”

About Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of 4-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who was fighting cancer and wanted to raise money to find cures for all children with cancer. Her spirit and determination inspired others to support her cause, and when she passed away at the age of eight, she had raised one million Dollars. Since then, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement in the United States. Today, ALSF is one of the leading funders of paediatric cancer research in the US and Canada raising more than 250 million Dollar so far, funding over 1,000 research projects and providing programs to families affected by childhood cancer.