BOSTON, Feb. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- SHEPHERD Therapeutics, a company dedicated to catalyzing lifesaving treatments for rare cancer patients, today announced a collaboration with the Mayo Clinic to advance research in rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a rare pediatric cancer with few treatment options. As part of the collaboration, SHEPHERD and Mayo clinicians and researchers, Dr. Patricio Gargollo, Dr. Candace Granberg, and Dr. Fabrice Lucien-Matteoni, will use SHEPHERD's proprietary, next-generation precision-oncology platform, DELVE, to identify mechanisms for drug response and resistance in RMS patients, and to identify new single drug and multi-drug combinations that have the potential to impact RMS care.
Although 380 out of 400 cancers are considered rare, treatments for rare cancers are lacking. As of 2018, almost 80% of cancer patients without an approved therapy had a rare cancer, and from 2012 to 2016, 75% of clinical trials did not specifically include any rare cancers. All cancers that predominately affect pediatric patients are considered rare.
"SHEPHERD's mission is to save the life of every rare and pediatric cancer patient by connecting them with next-generation, lifesaving therapies," said David Hysong, CEO of SHEPHERD. "This partnership showcases a new paradigm for how rare cancers can be treated; we are honored to work alongside such a brilliant team at the Mayo Clinic to bring hope to these young patients and their loved ones."
The Schafran family is one of millions that has experienced the devastating loss of a loved one as a result of not having a treatment for a rare cancer, when their beloved Finn passed away at age 3 from RMS. Although RMS can occur at any age, it most often affects children. The disease forms in soft tissue — specifically skeletal muscle tissue or sometimes hollow organs such as the bladder or uterus. BrandiLee Schafran, Director of Patient Advocacy at the SHEPHERD Foundation and Finn's mother, shared, "Together, Mayo Clinic and SHEPHERD will be a powerhouse of promise in the fight against the devastating disease that is rhabdomyosarcoma, accelerating research that could save lives that do not need to be lost."
This rhabdomyosarcoma research project is being led by the experienced and dedicated Mayo Clinic clinicians and scientists:
Patricio Gargollo, M.D., Associate Professor Urology, Pediatric Urologist, Mayo Clinic
Candace Granberg, M.D., Assistant Professor Urology, Pediatric Urologist, Mayo Clinic and SHEPHERD Foundation Advisory Council member
Fabrice Lucien-Matteoni, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Urology, Mayo Clinic
"Started in 2018, our multi-disciplinary team has been invested in understanding the reasons why rhabdomyosarcoma is such an aggressive cancer and identifying molecular vulnerabilities that can be targeted with next-generation therapies. Our research is somehow limited by the scarcity of fresh specimens and biological tools to study this disease. Our collaboration with SHEPHERD Therapeutics and access to the DELVE platform represents a unique opportunity to extrapolate from more heavily-studied cancers and accelerate rhabdomyosarcoma research. Our clinical and scientific expertise will synergize with DELVE's platform to open new opportunities and options for more efficacious treatments in rhabdomyosarcoma patients," said the researchers.
About SHEPHERD SHEPHERD is on a mission to change the way rare cancer is treated. Through SHEPHERD Therapeutics and the SHEPHERD Foundation, we attack rare cancer from every angle, with the goal of saving millions of lives. SHEPHERD Therapeutics pursues drug development differently than any other company: Using our precision-oncology platform, DELVE, we are moving beyond a single-target-based approach to identify complex and interconnected mechanisms responsible for drug response and resistance revealed in the human transcriptome, which inform the identification of promising potential treatments for specific cancers. The SHEPHERD Foundation is a non-profit fighting to generate industry-wide change related to rare cancer awareness and therapeutic availability. The Foundation drives transformative healthcare policy at the federal level, connects and advocates for rare cancer patients and their families, and ultimately aims to accelerate the availability of and access to rare cancer-related data, basic science, and therapies – to ensure that no patient is left to die. Visit www.SHEPHERD.bio to learn more and join the fight.
About DELVE DELVE is SHEPHERD's next-generation, precision-oncology platform that integrates bioinformatics, machine learning, and mathematics to unveil unprecedented insights into cancer. DELVE moves beyond a single-target-based approach to identify complex and interconnected mechanisms responsible for drug response and resistance revealed in the human transcriptome. Using DELVE, SHEPHERD can identify the cancers for which each therapy potentially will work best – and the therapies that will work best for each cancer. This approach enables SHEPHERD to work faster and differently across over 100 cancers, multiplying the potential patient impact for any therapy, speeding development, and improving patient outcomes by optimizing for maximum clinical trial success.