Purdue Center for Cancer Research begins using Tyler Trent's donated cells for research

The Purdue Center for Cancer Research has launched a new research program that uses Tyler Trent's cancer cells. Prior to his death on Jan. 1, Tyler donated his osteosarcoma tumors.

Posted: May 14, 2019 5:23 PM
Updated: May 15, 2019 11:32 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Purdue Center for Cancer Research has launched a new research program that uses Tyler Trent's cancer cells. Prior to his death on Jan. 1, Tyler donated his osteosarcoma tumors.

The initiative, announced Tuesday, is a collaborative effort between Dr. David Nolte and Dr. John Turek. The two will work together to develop a process that measures cell motion, according to the Purdue Center for Cancer Research. When cells in biop­sies or tissue collected during surgery is exposed to chemotherapy agents, active agents induce different cell motion than inactive agents. The process, called Biodynamic Imaging, will be used in along with doctors from Riley Children's Hospital to identify osteosarcoma chemo sensitivity. 

Although he's been in the field for many years, this process is different for researcher John Turek.

"We've looked at many many tissues from patients but never before have I known the name or actually anything about the patient," said Turek. 

Researchers will work to understand how Tyler's tissue responds to various drugs. Turek said that's important because genetic information isn't helpful in most pediatric cancers.

"It will actually allow us to link a lot of that information back to genetic information and other information that they have on these tumors and that will allow us to begin to design clinical trials and research that will benefit future patients."

Purdue Center For Cancer Research's Director Timothy Ratliff said research like this comes at an especially important time.

"We've got probably 11 drugs in clinical trials right now, some are in the last stage before FDA approval, we're making a whole lot more and with Tyler's help we're going to really discover some cures for that osteosarcoma."

Tyler was a student member of the Purdue Center For Cancer Research's Director's Advancement Board. Tyler died on New Year's Day after his battle with Osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He captivated the hearts of the world for his positive spirit and platform to fight the disease.

The center also announced two other collaborative research initiatives to honor Tyler's legacy.

The Purdue Center for Cancer Research said Dr. Philip Low has developed new technology that allows Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells to be collected from the patient. Then, it can be modified and injected back so their own CAR T cells can target and destroy the cancer cells. This technology is set to go to trial this summer, according to PCCR. 

Dr. Nolte, Dr. Turek and Dr. Micheal Childress are also working with the Biodynamic Imaging to identify chemosensitivity in canine osteosarcoma. The disease is similar to the human version, so it can be tested with the same chemotherapeutic agents in which will help better define the model for future studies. Because of Purdue's Veterinary Clinic and teaching college, the PUCC canine oncology doctors are able work with canine cancers as they present in the clinic.

You can give to the Tyler Trent Research Endowment here. 


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