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Tracking the source of bone cancer mutations

Memphis, Tennessee, April 1, 2019

osteosarcoma cells

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in children and teens.

Cure rates for the childhood bone cancer osteosarcoma are 60–70% and have been static for 30 years. Most deaths occur when the cancer spreads to the lungs.

Treatment involves surgery and chemotherapy with the drug cisplatin. It’s widely known that chemo can cause mutations and second cancers. But cisplatin’s effect on osteosarcoma mutations has been unclear.

Recent research showed cisplatin treatment may double the number of mutations in the tumor. The changes include ones that may drive tumor growth.

The study involved whole-genome and targeted deep sequencing of two primary tumors and of 14 tumors that had spread to other areas. The tumors were from four patients.

“The findings show the value of figuring out the mutations associated with every DNA-damaging chemotherapy agent,” said Jinghui Zhang, PhD, chair of the St. Jude Department of Computational Biology. “The information would help us understand how the genetic changes might affect the patients’ risk of second cancers and drug resistance.”

The study was part of the St. Jude – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. What scientists learned from this study may help them develop better treatments.

Molecular Cancer Research published a report on the study.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit, read St. Jude Progress, a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.