Funding The Best: Dr. Damon Reed
Article by Jonelle Kimbrough
Every year in the United States, 12,000 to 15,000 children – from infancy to the age of 19 – are diagnosed with cancer. Although cancer is still the leading cause of death due to disease in children, survival rates for pediatric cancer patients have significantly improved over the last three decades as a result of revolutionary new treatments.
The research conducted by the best and brightest minds at the nation’s leading cancer centers is responsible for moving these life-saving treatments from the lab to the patient. One of these dedicated scientists is Dr. Damon Reed of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.
The V Foundation awarded a Designated Grant to Reed’s project “Rapid Screening of FDA Approved Chemotherapy Agents to Develop Combinatorial Treatment Regimens for Pediatric Sarcomas” with funds raised through the 2013 Dick Vitale Gala.
Reed’s interest in sarcoma research began with a logical observation. “In learning about the approaches and outcomes for pediatric tumors, it became clear that both brain tumors and sarcomas had the poorest outcomes and thus the greatest needs,” he said. “Since there is more room for improvement, I am hoping I can make a larger difference in sarcoma.”
Reed is working toward that goal by developing a way to rapidly evaluate many chemotherapy agents in clinically relevant manners and to identify the combinations of agents that are most effective against prevalent forms of pediatric sarcomas, including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma.
According to Reed, cancer is complex, and developing a single medicine to stop a cancer is a major challenge. He said that many pediatric sarcomas have a lot of mutations, and current research and findings suggest that combinations of chemotherapy agents are more likely to target those multiple abnormally active pathways in cancer. “With much disorder, I believe that combinations of cancer agents are needed to make meaningful differences for a majority of the diagnoses we treat,” he remarked.
Reed reported that his team has completed the majority of the work for two diagnoses: osteosarcoma and Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor. “For osteosarcoma, we have six very promising combinations,” he said.
Reed said he believes that his methods and analyses will lead to at least one clinical trial in the next year and will inspire others to examine combinatorial therapies. “I look forward to being able to try and bring these methods and results closer to the clinic,” he said. Ultimately, he hopes that his work will improve the outcomes for children with cancer.
Like many of his colleagues, Reed relies on consistent funding to broaden the reach of his research. However, government funding for cancer research is dwindling, and only four percent of the federal budget for cancer research is allocated specifically for pediatric cancer. Therefore, supporters like you are more important than ever in helping researchers like Dr. Damon Reed. His work saves the lives of our children, and your support pushes us forward in the fight against cancer.