V Successes

Funding The Best: Dr. Steven DuBois

Dr. DuBois
Article by Jonelle Kimbrough

When you donate to The V Foundation, you help us fund the cutting-edge research that turns cancer patients into cancer survivors.

The researchers that we support all battle tirelessly and selflessly to turn the dream of a cancer-free world into a reality. One of these researchers, though, is fighting a rare enemy. He is fighting to stop a disease that accounts for only one percent of all cancer occurrences, and that disease is sarcoma.

Dr. Steven DuBois, a pediatric oncologist at the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital, recently received a $105,000 Designated Grant from The V Foundation to study this uncommon cancer, specifically Ewing sarcoma.

According to the National Cancer Institute, sarcomas are a diverse group of malignant tumors that develop in soft tissue and bone. In 2014, approximately 12,000 cases of soft tissue sarcoma and 3,000 cases of bone sarcoma were diagnosed in the United States. Although older adults can develop sarcomas, they are more common in children and young adults and have therefore become a major focus of pediatric cancer research.

DuBois’ interest in sarcoma research began when he was a pediatric oncology fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. There, he worked closely with Dr. Holcombe Grier, who helped establish current therapies for Ewing sarcoma.

DuBois’ research project, “Predictors of Response to IGF-1R Inhibition in Metastatic Ewing Sarcoma,” was funded by The V Foundation in partnership with The QuadW Foundation, which provides financial support to people and organizations pursuing innovative ideas and opportunities in the areas of higher education, sarcoma research, personally transforming mission experiences and general philanthropy in honor of Willie Tichenor, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 19 from osteosarcoma.

A Children’s Oncology Group Phase II clinical trial chaired by DuBois is comparing Ewing sarcoma patients treated with standard multi-agent chemotherapies to patients treated with chemotherapy plus an antibody directed against the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R). Early clinical studies suggested that the use of an IGF-1R inhibitor was one of the most promising approaches for Ewing sarcoma patients – albeit a small minority of patients who demonstrated dramatic responses. As the first large-scale evaluation of IGF-1R inhibition in patients with newly diagnosed Ewing sarcoma, the Phase II trial has the potential to transform clinical care for this type of cancer. Researchers will be able to identify and assess not only the responses of patients receiving this promising targeted therapy but also the potential predictors of patients who are most likely to respond to IGF-1R inhibition.

DuBois said that the enrollment for the clinical trial is moving well, and the team is obtaining the samples they need to complete the work. “Patients with metastatic Ewing sarcoma have poor outcomes that have not improved with other approaches,” said DuBois. “We hope that the addition of an IGF-1R inhibitor to standard therapies will improve cure rates for this group of patients.”

As a cancer investigator, DuBois is on the front lines in the war on cancer, and The V Foundation is his best comrade in the fight. Visit jimmyv.org to learn how you can support researchers like Dr. Steven DuBois.