Identification of IL1RAP as a novel oncoprotein and therapeutic target in Ewing sarcoma

Ewing Sarcoma (EWS) is an aggressive form of childhood cancer that occurs on bone and soft tissue. Although conventional cancer therapeutic strategies, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, have improved survival in patients with localized EWS tumours, they are ineffective for patients with metastatic disease. In addition, conventional chemotherapy is often toxic and carcinogenic, which carries short- and long-term toxicities. In the past few years, immunotherapy has been promoted as an effective means to prolong survival or eliminate tumor cells in patients with specific cancers.

However, effective immunotherapeutic strategies for EWS have not yet been described. Identification of highly specific cell surface markers of tumor cells is critical for developing targeted immunotherapy strategies. We have identified IL1RAP (Interleukin 1 receptor accessory protein) as a cell surface protein that is highly expressed in EWS in comparison to normal tissues/organs, and that is important for tumorigenesis in this disease. In this project, we aim to develop immunotherapeutic strategies by targeting IL1RAP in human EWS, while also delineating the key mechanisms mediating the tumor-promoting function of this protein.