A lot can happen in five years.
Five years ago, Zach Sobiech was battling osteosarcoma and watching his hit song “Clouds” climb to the top of the charts. At that time, his family started the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund to help researchers find better treatments for kids with this devastating disease.
Now, five years later, we’ve raised $1.5 million, and your support has fueled a discovery that will give renewed hope to hundreds of families facing osteosarcoma.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have identified a genetic biomarker called SEMA4D, which helps osteosarcoma develop and flourish. Since this discovery, these researchers have found a way to use an existing drug to target and destroy the cancer. This drug will hopefully improve survival rates for kids who have had osteosarcoma and relapsed.
“The people in this clinical trial are people on whom all other therapies have failed,” said investigator Branden Moriarity, PhD. “It’s completely different from chemo, because so far with this drug, we have seen no side effects at all. There’s no feeling ill or staying in the hospital or losing your hair.”
Not only is this a huge step forward in treating osteosarcoma, it happened in such a short period of time. In the world of cancer research, five years can feel like the blink of an eye. In a little less than two years, this clinical trial will be completed and researchers can assess the drug’s effectiveness.
“This could mean treatment with no chemo at all, just the antibody drug therapy,” Moriarty said. “My dream is that this will completely change the way osteosarcoma is treated and drastically improve survival rates for patients.”
This brand new drug therapy is now available through clinical trials at 21 sites nationwide, including the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. For families facing osteosarcoma, especially those facing the devastating news that they’ve relapsed, this therapy could become the treatment option that makes all the difference.
“The community support, academic research and private partnership – this is how medical discoveries are made and we’re thrilled to know our son has helped spark a potential treatment option for patients,” said Laura Sobiech, Zach’s mom. “It’s our hope that Zach’s legacy continues to inspire patients and families around the globe, and advance treatment.”
Zach and his family helped start the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund at Children’s Cancer Research Fund. Directed proceeds from his music and other fundraisers help researchers tackle osteosarcoma.