Behind the Study: Dendritic Cell Sarcoma & Rapid Research Autopsy

The Behind the Study series transcribes videos of researchers elaborating on their papers published in Oncotarget. Visit the Oncotarget YouTube channel for more insights from outstanding authors.


Researchers from the Ohio State University describe their paper published by Oncotarget in 2019 titled, “Genomic characterization of metastatic ultra-hypermutated interdigitating dendritic cell sarcoma through rapid research autopsy.”

Sameek Roychowdhury

Hi, I’m Sameek Roychowdhury, I’m an Associate Professor and Medical Oncologist at the Ohio State University, James Cancer Hospital and Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Hui-Zi Chen

Hi, my name is Hui-Zi Chen, and I am a Medical Oncology Fellow at the Ohio State University, as well as a Pelotonia Research Fellow.

Sameek Roychowdhury

This manuscript is about a patient with a rare cancer, hyper-mutated, took part in our body donation study to study tumor heterogeneity and drug resistance in cancer. We started this study two years back. Specifically, to understand how patients become resistant to the therapies they receive and to study the biology of their cancers as they progress and ultimately become fatal. And, to do this, it required a team effort.

Figure 1: Research autopsy of a patient with metastatic IDCS.

Hui-Zi Chen

And so I think, indeed, that the challenge of doing such studies involving patients and families and body donation, and the unpredictable timing of things happening. It really takes a large team of individuals to make this happen, and many physicians of different disciplines, research team members, and everyone’s involvement to really make this kind of research possible. And so, I think that’s been a big challenge, but it has also been a big reward in the sense that everyone functions as a team and we collaborate. And so that, in itself, is also a big reward of such studies.

Sameek Roychowdhury

The main part of this study are the patients and their families. I think one surprising reward has been the gratitude and satisfaction that patients before the study sent us and then afterwards; the next of kin and family, how appreciative people have been that a study like this is even available. And for those loved ones to know that their family member is contributing to fighting cancer through research after death, and we were really touched by that, and even further motivated.

So again, a multidisciplinary team really starting with patients and their families, and without that teamwork, without that patient partnership, a study like this wouldn’t be possible.

And now we’re able to look at clonal heterogeneity, clonal evolution, and why do cancers become resistant? And this case highlights some approaches that we’ve taken using genomics and computer science, tied together with this clinical study.

The next steps, I think beyond this rare cancer that’s hypermutated is any cancer, really. So we’ve opened this study to patients with any cancer type.

Do you want to highlight some of the examples?

Hui-Zi Chen

Yeah, so we have focused the study on patients with metastatic advanced treatment and refractory small cell lung cancer, as well as patients with advanced balled cancer colon geo carcinoma, and as well as patients with cancer of unknown primary.

So cancers that we just don’t have good idea of where they might have started from. And these are also often very difficult to treat clinically and patients don’t do very well. And then we’re also hoping to expand the study to include patients with colorectal cancer, this so that would be a focus.

Sameek Roychowdhury

Yeah. So, we’ve really started in a couple areas of focus that in the next couple of years we hope to expand the study to really any kind of cancer with a couple of areas of focus to start with. But we hope as this grows at Ohio State, we hope to see other programs elsewhere, similarly, enroll patients in the study. So we can start to share the data, the samples, and further understand metastatic cancer.

Click here to reach the full study published by Oncotarget.

Oncotarget: Dendritic cell sarcoma & rapid research autopsy

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