Research

“The Whit Whit Fund”

The Whit Whit Fund began very organically. The Posillico men shaved their heads every year for St. Baldrick’s to raise money for pediatric cancer. When Whitney was diagnosed, her cousin decided to start “Team Whitney” to raise money in her honor. In ten days, we raised over $173,000! We then decided to start the “Whit Whit Fund” at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The “Whit Whit Fund” raises money to research pediatric tumor cancers. To date we have raised over $230,000 for a total of over $400,000 for pediatric cancer research!

Background on Malignant Rhabdoid Tumors

Malignant Rhabdoid Tumors (MRT) are highly lethal cancers, which predominantly effect young children. They typically occur in the brain or kidney, but can also occur elsewhere in the body. Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of patients are diagnosed with advanced disease. Despite aggressive multi-agent chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical approaches, the outcomes for this tumor remain dismal. The outcomes are especially poor for children diagnosed in infancy. This is likely due to both the biology of the tumor, as well as the limitations of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery in this age group. These tumors share a common genetic abnormality. The hallmark biologic feature of MRT is a mutation in a gene called SMARCB1. Scientists and clinicians who work with MRT are trying to learn more about these mutations and how they contribute to the cause of these tumors in order to find better modalities of therapy.

Research

With the generous money you have given, researchers have been able to make good progress in their proposed research to find new therapies against tumors. They have completed an extensive pooled shRNA screen on three different tumor cell lines. The term “shRNA” is an abbreviation for “small hairpin RNA”. Basically, it is a powerful laboratory method to “turn off” a gene to help figure out whether that gene is important or not for that tumor. A “pooled” shRNA screen is especially powerful because it involves multiple shRNA particles targeting many genes at once. Researchers have acquired a pooled shRNA library against over 400 genes, which already have targeted FDA approved drugs available against them. Therefore, if they are able to identify an shRNA, which leads to the reduction of growth in laboratory models, they could potentially move a corresponding FDA approved drug into clinical trials in an efficient and rapid manner. From their initial screen of the three cell lines, they identified 31 shRNA candidates, which demonstrated selective inhibition against tumors as compared to a non-cancer cell line. After validating all 31 of the “hits”, the ones that truly showed activity have been moved into mouse models to study the activity in animal xenografts.

As you can see, you are making a difference! Thank you!

To make a donation, go to:

http://mskcc.convio.net/goto/WhitWhitFund

Or if you prefer to write a check:

Checks should be made payable to MSKCC. Write memo as: “Whit Whit Fund”. Tax ID is 13-1924236.

Mail to:

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Office of Development
Attn: Kirstin Burdett
885 Second Ave. 7th Fl.
New York, NY 10017