Tyler Trent wanted his legacy to be raising funds to end cancer.
The Carmel resident and Purdue University student, who became known for his passion for Purdue sports, died at age 20 on Jan. 1, 2019. Tyler’s story drew nationwide attention for his courage in his fighting osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine recently announced they have found a combination therapy that significantly slows tumor growth in models, built from cells taken from Tyler’s tumors.
“We’re extremely excited about the progress they have made and what they have learned,” said Tony Trent, Tyler’s father. “Not only for our well-being, but for people who have struggled with the same disease or will struggle with it in the future. Using Tyler’s tumor they figured out a way to stop the growth of the cancer. We haven’t found a way to cure cancer yet, but if you needed treatment and needed to stop the tumor from growing, they found a way to do that until they continue to do research to find a cure.”
The researchers, guided by Karen E. Pollok, found a variation in Trent’s tumors (TT1 and TT2) called the MYC-RAD21 signature, which has been found in tumors that tend to recur. Pollok stated in a news release there are two drugs that can block its effects, a Chk1 inhibitor and a bromodomain inhibitor. Pollok’s team tested each of those drugs individually, as well as in combination.
“What we found in Tyler’s model is we can take one of these drugs, the Chk1 inhibitor or the bromodomain inhibitor, and we can administer it in models with the TT2 tumor and we get the tumors to stop growing some, compared to a control,” Pollok stated. “However, when we put the two drugs together, we block the growth of these tumors substantially.”
The team found that the combination therapy worked during a four-week treatment, but the tumor started growing again after stopping the therapy.
“Tyler Trent has truly left us a legacy,” Pollok stated. “While we still have much work to do, we are hopeful that new therapies for osteosarcoma will be possible in the near future.”
In addition to donating his tumor samples, Tyler co-wrote a book, “The Upset,” with the proceeds going to cancer research. Trent said 25,000 books have been sold so far. The book is available at tylertrentbook.com.
Tyler encouraged the public to donate money to support research. People have donated millions of dollars for cancer research in his name, including approximately $180,000 for the Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment for Riley Hospital
“With all of Tyler’s endeavors and entities, he’s raised about $2.6 million with the book sales and everything,” Tony Trent said. “IU and Purdue have teamed up with Tyler’s foundation to work together as well as the V Foundation. Because of the work they are doing with Tyler’s tumors and the success they are having, it allows them to apply for different grants. They just got a big grant from the government to continue to study it.”
Tony and his wife, Kelly, attended the recent announcement.
“When you look through the microscope, you see Tyler’s cells are moving,” Tony Trent said. “It’s strange to think you see your son is alive, but yet he’s not there. Tyler wanted to make a difference for other kids that are going through the cancer. It’s exciting to see some progression in that. I know Tyler would be ecstatic to hear the work they are doing so far has made a huge difference. You could do research for years and years and never have anything. Literally within a year of donation we have something, and that’s super exciting.”