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The Vakoc lab receives support for sarcoma research

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photo of Jim McCormack, Chris Vakoc, Paul Paternoster, Kristi Paternoster, and Pam Gillies presenting check to the Vakoc lab
Jim McCormack, Chris Vakoc, Paul Paternoster, Kristi Paternoster and Pam Gillies with members of the Vakoc Laboratory

On November 17th, Paul Paternoster, President of the Michelle Paternoster Foundation, and Pam Gillies, President of the Clark Gillies Foundation presented checks to Dr. Chris Vakoc. The Vakoc lab is pursuing the discovery and validation of novel drug targets in pediatric sarcomas, with a focus on rhabdomyosarcoma and on Ewing sarcoma. Their work in rhabdomyosarcoma focuses heavily on two proteins: PAX3-FOXO1 and MYOD1. The major theme of their work is to reveal ‘cooperating factors’ for these two targets, the rationale being that knowledge of cooperation among proteins can be leveraged to develop novel cancer drugs, since drugs have proven capabilities of disrupting protein-protein interactions. In the area of Ewing sarcoma, the Vakoc lab is about to publish a study revealing the protein ETV6 as a therapeutic target in this tumor. This study provide a detailed roadmap for how to develop drugs against this target. Ongoing interactions with biotech companies are exploring drug development strategies built around these discoveries.

The Michelle Paternoster Foundation was established in 2014 after Michelle lost her twelve year battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma, on June 23rd, 2013 at the age of 34. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a deadly form of sarcoma cancer that affects children and young adults and is non responsive to chemotherapy. Therefore, once it becomes metastatic, it is considered incurable with existing treatment protocols.

The Clark Gillies Foundation is a non-profit corporation developed to help children who are physically, developmentally,  and/or financially challenged.  This assistance can be in the form of payments for medical services, family financial aid, events to enhance the quality of life, and many other forms. Our goal is to help children improve the quality of life and be of assistance in a time of crisis.

The two foundations have given nearly half a million dollars to support sarcoma research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.