Researcher Studies Gene Pathways Responsible for Metastatic Rhabdomyosarcoma

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Jason Yustein, MD, PhD


Project: Novel Mouse Models of Metastatic Rhabdomyosarcoma

Jason Yustein
  • Jason Yustein, MD, PhD
  • Baylor College of Medicine

Rhabdomyosarcoma is cancer that develops in the skeletal muscles of children. It is the most common soft-tissue sarcoma diagnosed in children and is most frequently found in the head, neck and extremities. Children who develop metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that has spread from the original tumor site to other areas of the body, have very poor outcomes. Poor outcomes are likely due to lack of understanding of the genes and pathways involved in metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma.

Jason Yustein, MD, PhD, is a CureSearch Young Investigator at Baylor College of Medicine exploring the genetic changes that occur when cancer spreads. Dr. Yustein will conduct his research by using genetically engineered mice that have a higher likelihood of developing metastatic tumors in order to study the biology of the disease. By studying mice with rhabdomyosarcoma, he believes he can track the development of the cancer, and identify the genes responsible for the disease’s progression and subsequent metastasis. Dr. Yustein will use these findings to study critical genes and pathways that are altered in the development and progression of rhabdomyosarcoma. He believes these studies will provide significant advancements toward understanding how these tumors become metastatic and, as a result, new therapeutic options will be developed to prevent and treat metastasis.

As of the conclusion of his CureSearch-funded project, Dr. Yustein has developed important new tools for modeling rhabdomyosarcoma:

  • 1 genetically engineered metastatic RMS mouse model created
  • 1 genetically engineered metastatic RMS reporter mouse model developed
  • 1 analysis of the transcriptomes of local and metastatic RMS model tumors
  • 17 gene signatures identified that are related to metastatic RMS

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