The Wampler Family’s Partnership with OSI Supports Innovative Research Study
Jennifer and John Wampler help fund emerging osteosarcoma research led by oncologist, Dr. Brian Crompton.

Lizzy’s tragic passing in 2018 left her family with a mission: To do everything in their power to combat osteosarcoma in order to save lives.

Ever since, Lizzy’s parents, Jennifer and John Wampler, have been committed to raising funds to support families going through pediatric cancer and to help advance osteosarcoma research, most notably with the foundation they established in her honor — Lizzy’s Walk of Faith Foundation.

In 2020, the Osteosarcoma Institute (OSI) partnered with the family’s foundation to establish Lizzy’s Osteosarcoma Science Fund. The collaboration has enabled the Wamplers to focus their efforts on raising funds for emerging osteosarcoma research to help change the way this disease is understood and treated. As of April 2022, they have raised more than $76,000. And the Wamplers have plans to continue their efforts to fund a cure for osteosarcoma through Lizzy’s 5th Annual Walk of Faith 5K that will take place on Saturday, September 17th in Columbia, Missouri.

More Resources, More Research

Last year, OSI received a record 26 grant proposals, from which it chose three projects to fund. The Wamplers worked with OSI’s team to choose a specific osteosarcoma research project to support, selecting a study that is testing a field of emerging cancer research in osteosarcoma patients called liquid biopsy.

The two-year correlative study, titled “Measuring the phenotypic effects of novel targeted therapies with osteosarcoma circulating tumor cells,” is led by hematology-oncology specialist Brian Crompton, MD, a pediatric oncologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Research Co-Director of the Solid Tumor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A correlative study attempts to correlate a response, or lack of response, on a clinical trial to specific biological characteristics that would allow the researcher to identify more precisely patients who will respond, and those who will not respond, to a given therapy. The goal is that future studies will focus on treating only those patients likely to benefit from a given treatment.

In Dr. Crompton’s correlative study, circulated tumor cells from the patient being treated will be collected and analyzed for expression of specific proteins that may predict those who respond to the ongoing treatment. Successful correlative studies lead to proven “biomarkers” that are predictive of response to a given therapeutic intervention. Currently, the only approved way to capture and study tumor cells is to extract them through a tumor biopsy, an invasive procedure that takes a tissue sample of the tumor and analyzes it.

“My goal is to revolutionize how we treat osteosarcoma patients,” says Dr. Crompton, who is vice-chair of the OSI’s SCIENTS Committee. “By using the knowledge that we have around cancer genomics, we are now able to find fragments of tumor cells in the blood.”

The study involves taking regular blood draws from patients throughout their treatment journey. This blood sample goes through a method called single cell analysis, which isolates the tumor cell from the blood and sequences it to learn which proteins it is expressing. Using this process, Dr. Crompton and his research team will be able to learn critical information about how tumors respond to early phase trials, leading to a more personalized treatment plan.

Currently, all osteosarcoma patients begin treatment with chemotherapy and there is no way to know if it is working or not. It may take a few years to see Dr. Crompton’s liquid biopsy technique in practice. It will be used to help monitor how well chemotherapy is working for patients with osteosarcoma during their approximate three-month treatment period prior to their tumor removal surgery.

Dr. Crompton is hopeful that they will be able to glean insight into why certain people respond to treatments better than others. It could even lead to uncovering biomarkers that may play a role in early detection in the future.

“Early detection in a patient with osteosarcoma can mean life or death,” says Jennifer Wampler, who recently spoke with Dr. Crompton about his research goals and objectives. “We are so excited to partner with the OSI and Dr. Crompton on this important study.”

“We need support from donors and foundations to get these ideas through the early stages of development,” says Dr. Crompton. “I feel so fortunate to the Wamplers and the OSI for raising the funds necessary to advance osteosarcoma research.”

Donations can be made directly to Lizzy’s Osteosarcoma Science Fund at the OSI here.

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