CRI Funded Scientists

Md Torikul Islam, PhD, CRI Postdoctoral Fellow

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Area of Research: Sarcoma

Osteosarcoma is the most common and deadly form of bone cancer that affects children and adolescents. The main cause of death from osteosarcoma is metastasis, the spreading of cancer cells from the primary tumor to further areas of the body. Metastasis is a difficult process for cancer cells because they need to migrate through the hostile environment of blood and evade immune cell responses. As a result, most cancer cells die in this process. However, a rare population of cells undergoes adaptations that allow them to survive this journey. Consequently, the surviving cancer cells metastasize in distant organs and the disease becomes incurable. Stimulating immune cells to kill cancer cells via immunotherapy is an emerging way to treat osteosarcoma cancer patients. Unfortunately, many patients become resistant to treatment, therefore, understanding the mechanisms by which cancer cells evade immune cells is critical to improving patient outcomes.  

Dr. Islam aims to discover the underlying causes that assist osteosarcoma cells to survive during metastasis. He will leverage earlier discoveries that have shown that metastasizing melanoma cancer cells alter how they get energy, i.e., change their metabolism, allowing them to stay alive in the bloodstream and shield themselves from attacks by the immune system. Dr. Islam will test if osteosarcoma cells use such metabolic adaptations to survive metastasis. He aims to test if inhibitions of such metabolic pathways can make immunotherapy more effective and reduce osteosarcoma metastasis. Dr. Islam’s study will effectively elucidate novel mechanisms of osteosarcoma metastasis and holds the potential to develop new therapeutic avenues for osteosarcoma patients. 

Projects and Grants

The metabolic regulation of osteosarcoma metastasis 

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | Sarcoma | 2023 | Sean J. Morrison, PhD

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