Tyler Trent’s legacy lives on through research breakthroughs

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A major breakthrough in cancer therapy thanks to Tyler Trent and researchers at Indiana University.

The School of Medicine says they found a therapy that significantly slows tumor growth, and they built the therapy from tumor cells donated by Tyler Trent. Tyler died just over one year ago, but his legacy continues to live on.

“We’re very excited by our initial results,” Karen Pollok, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Riley Hospital says.

Researchers announced they’ve found a new combination drug therapy that slows tumor growth in models built from cells taken from Tyler’s tumors.

“What we’re finding is that there are some very interesting mutations that were in these samples that Tyler had, that we’re finding in other osteosarcoma samples as well,” Pollok said.

Tyler became a household name back in 2018 when ESPN covered his story on the night Purdue’s football team upset Ohio State. In January of last year, he lost his battle with a rare form of osteosarcoma.

Before his death, he donated two samples to the research lab at I.U., hoping to help other kids and families in the same situation. Tony and Kelly Trent, Tyler’s parents have visited the research lab and hear results from them on a regular basis.

“His heart and dream was for no other family and no other child to go through what he had to go through,” says Tony Trent.

43 kids in the U.S. get cancer every single day, but I.U.’s school of medicine says the breakthroughs they’re already seeing by studying Tyler’s samples are promising.

“Things are really starting to go fast I think. I think in the next decade, things are going to be so different on how patients are treated,” says Pollok.

Tyler inspired the nation with his story, reminding others to always keep fighting.

“You can see why Tyler was how he was. This family has taken this tragic situation and made it into something as positive as they could to give hope to kids at Riley and elsewhere around the country that need to be treated for cancer,” says Pollok.

Tyler’s parents are happy to see the research is paying off so far. “To think that Tyler’s cells could anyway lead to new discoveries and make an impact on research in osteosarcoma is beyond what I could imagine,” says Kelly Trent.

The researchers say their next step includes a better understanding of how the tumors adapt to the treatments.

The Purdue Cancer Research Center has an endowment in honor of Tyler. You can learn more about how you can donate on their website.

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