His research focuses in the role of cancer stem cells in the development and progression of pediatric sarcomas. Dr. Rainusso has been awarded numerous honors for his research, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Young Investigator Award (2009). He is a St. Baldrick’s Scholar and has received funding from the Snowdrop Foundation, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Children’s Cancer Research Fund to support his work.
Dr. Nino Rainusso is conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Rosen in close collaboration with Dr. Jason Yustein. The goal of his translational research is to isolate, molecularly characterize and target cancer stem cells in pediatric sarcomas. Cancer stem cells are characterized by their self-renewal, quiescence and increased migratory capacities, which are key inherent features for tumor initiation and metastatic progression. Moreover, cancer stem cells are particularly resistant to the effects of some anticancer drugs and radiation therapy. Therefore, the combination of conventional treatments with the development of novel cancer stem cell-specific therapies would significantly impact patient treatment outcomes.
Dr. Rainusso is using novel genetically engineered mouse models of osteosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma, the two most common sarcomas in children, to isolate cancer stem cells. Additionally, he plans to utilize a patient-derived tumor xenograft transplantation (PDTX) model to study cancer stem biology in sarcomas and to evaluate tumor response using different anti-cancer drugs.
His research interests include: Identification and complete genomic characterization of cancer stem cells in pediatric sarcomas.