On May 14, 2021, Katia Conte, executive director and president of the Daniela Conte Foundation (DCF), and board member Lisa Amatulli presented Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Professor Chris Vakoc with a check for $30,000 to support his lab’s cutting-edge research on rhabdomyosarcoma. The Vakoc laboratory studies how transcription factors, chromatin proteins, and signaling molecules cooperate to maintain the cancer cell state. They make extensive use of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic screens, epigenomics, and biochemistry to study gene regulatory mechanisms. Their goal is to develop a new generation of therapies that reprogram transcription to eliminate cancer cells.
Anthony and Katia Conte founded the DCF in 2020 to raise awareness; fund research to develop less toxic, more targeted treatments for childhood cancers with a specific focus on embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma; and to financially assist pediatric patients and their families going through treatment. Daniela passed away on March 2, 2020 from embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma after battling the disease for almost four years. The DCF fundraises to continue her legacy into the future.
Sarcoma is a cancer of the connective tissue, such as bones, muscles, nerves, fat, cartilage, tendons, and blood vessels. Sarcomas comprise about 15 to 20% of pediatric cancers. The overall relative five-year survival rate of children with sarcomas is around 50%, a statistic that has not changed in almost five decades. The treatment protocol for rhabdomyosarcoma has not evolved in over 30 years.