Jason T. Yustein, MD, PhD
Our research interests include furthering the biological, molecular and genetic understanding of pediatric sarcomas, including osteosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcomas and Ewing’s sarcoma, through the formation of novel model systems that will lead to the discovery of new therapeutic targets and subsequent development of new treatment interventions.
Dr. Jason Yustein’s research laboratory is utilizing tissue-specific expression of an oncogenic p53 mutant to form novel, applicable transgenic mouse models of metastatic osteosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma, both conditions that have particularly poor patient outcmes. Such models will allow for further understanding of critical genes and microRNAs involved in sarcoma development, progression and metastasis and can be utilized as preclinical models for therapeutic testing and efficacy. We are actively pursuing the roles of critical signal transduction mechanisms such as the Wnt-signaling pathway in the metastatic states. We perform a broad range of molecular and cellular investigations ranging from DNA mutation and RNA expression analysis to translational in vivo models utilized to understand the biology of the genetic alterations.
In addition, our laboratory is actively investigating the isolation, genetic and molecular characterization and treatment against the Ewing’s sarcoma cancer stem cells. This subpopulation of tumor cells, believed to be responsible for tumor initiation and progression, is often resistant to present therapeutic regimens including chemotherapy and radiation therapy and most likely involved in disease dissemination.
Furthermore, we have developed multiple collaborations with numerous other laboratories both within BCM, as well as outside of the institution to further enhance our studies both from a basic science and translational/clinical approach. Utilizing the strengths and resources of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, we have formed collaborations to test the efficacy of novel therapeutic agents on sarcomas. We also have collaborations with investigators at Rice University to develop novel ways to determine the presence of circulating nucleotide biomarkers for potential future means to assist in determining patient disease status.