Understanding Osteosarcoma

An osteosarcoma ​​​​​​(OS) or osteogenic sarcoma (OGS) is a cancerous tumor in a bone, and the most common form of primary bone cancer. Specifically, it is an aggressive malignant neoplasm, (an abnormal and excessive growth), that arises from primitive transformed cells of mesenchymal origin (a type of connective tissue found mostly during the development of the embryo). It is most prevalent in teenagers and young adults, but osteosarcoma can develop at any age.

In children and young adults, osteosarcoma usually starts in areas where the bone is growing quickly, such as near the ends of the leg or arm bones:

  • Most tumors develop in the bones around the knee, either in the distal femur (the lower part of the thigh bone) or the proximal tibia (the upper part of the shinbone).
  • The upper arm bone close to the shoulder (proximal humerus) is the next most common site.
Still, osteosarcoma can develop in any bone, including the bones of the pelvis (hips), shoulder, and jaw. This is especially true in older adults.

Researchers are learning more about what makes osteosarcoma cells different from normal bone cells. Knowing more about the changes in osteosarcoma cells might eventually result in specific treatments that exploit these changes. Great advances have been made in treating osteosarcoma in the past few decades. Still, more research is needed to learn how best to manage hard-to-treat osteosarcomas, such as those that have already spread when they are found. Many clinical trials are focusing on treating osteosarcoma using a variety of strategies, including:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy drugs

Bone cancer can effect canines as well as humans, especially in the larger dog breeds. It can be equally as agressive and difficult to treat, and for us here at the Gabriel Institute it is the catalyst for our deep desire to treat the disease. Through the research and techniques we develop in treating canine osteosarcoma, we are working to apply those successes towards the treatment of the disease in children as well. Along with our partners, VICI Valco Instruments and IsoTherapeutics Group, LLC, we are working to pioneer the direct administration of therapeutic isotopes into tumors. Research to determine the best available treatment led to the realization that VICI's years of experience in designing and manufacturing components for delivering, sampling, and detecting trace components could be applied to devising equipment for localizing the delivery of concentrations of chemotherapeutic, radiochemical, and radiation therapies.