Grants - V Scholar Grants - Kentucky - 2020

Ramon Sun, PhD

Funded by Mark and Cindy Pentecost in memory of Will DeGregorio

Ewing sarcoma relies on decades-old chemotherapy options, where aggressive treatments are met with poor disease outcomes. Ewing sarcoma is a devastating disease that affects mostly young adults age 10-16, but children under the age 10 can also develop this deadly illness. Due to the disease’s classification as a rare disease (less than 10,000 cases/year), it has not received the attention of the research community like other more common cancers; therefore, it is in desperate need of intense research and development of new therapeutic options.  One of the key observations of Ewing sarcoma made back in the 1930’s is the accumulation of large amount of glycogen. Glycogen is a sugar molecule that our body uses to store energy; only specific organs such as the liver and muscle are capable of producing glycogen.  The ability of Ewing sarcoma tumors to store large amount of glycogen has been forgotten until now.  This proposal aims to understand the reason behind large glycogen accumulation in Ewing sarcoma and exploit the glycogen deposits as a possible drug target for the treatment of Ewing sarcoma. Dr. Sun has established ongoing collaborations with pediatric physicians to study the basis of glycogen targeting agents for the treatment of Ewing’s sarcomaand to define early diagnostic biomarkers and evaluation of response to therapy. The long-term goal is to establish treatment options using one or multiple modalities as tailored therapies against Ewing’s sarcoma’s metabolic vulnerability.