Indiana News

Tyler Trent cell line research leads to cancer treatment breakthrough

Tyler Trent cell line research leads to cancer treatment breakthrough

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tyler Trent’s fight against bone cancer is now leading to groundbreaking discoveries in cancer research.

The Purdue superfan dedicated the last portion of his life to finding a cure for cancer. Thanks to his efforts, Indiana University School of Medicine researchers have found a breakthrough.

Samples of Tyler Trent’s cell lines have been tested day after day. After all that hard work, researchers at IU School of Medicine have finally found a way to actually slow the growth of tumors just like Tyler’s.

When Tyler Trent was still alive, he was checking in with researchers, making sure he did everything he could to help find a cure for his aggressive bone cancer, osteosarcoma.

“He had had a couple new tumors pop up and he said ‘Well, do you want to take this one?'” Tyler’s mom, Kelly Trent said. “I mean, he was offering his body and of course they were like, ‘No, Tyler, that’s OK.’ But he would have given whatever they needed.”

The two cell lines, named TT1 and TT2 after Tyler himself, have been more than enough for researchers. Through those cell lines, they found that by combining two different drugs, also known as combination therapy, they can slow down tumor growth to almost nothing in a two-month period.

“If you can get patients where they can be maintained and have a high quality of life, that’s a good thing too,” said Karen Pollok, associate professor of pediatrics.

The effects of the therapy could give patients more time on earth, but this isn’t a cure. The research found that when you stop taking the drug combination, the tumor starts growing again.

“You can almost see it like that whack-a-mole that you see at circuses or whatever, fairs, where you’ve got to hit it down and then you’ve got to hit it over here and you’ve got to hit it over here,” Pollok said. “And that’s kind of our philosophy on how we’re going to be going. It’s more of a multi-phase therapy.”

But this breakthrough doesn’t mean the work is over. Tyler’s cells are still being used everyday as efforts to find a cure continue.

“Our challenge is, number one, how to best use this therapy,” Pollok said. “Maybe there’s a way we can absolutely cure it. And then number two, what is another drug we can come in with that’s going to actually kill those remaining cells.”

“We might go back up to Carmel and see him dancing out of his grave when we go back up there,” Tyler’s dad, Tony Trent said. “Because he would be so happy!”

A cure is still a ways off, but if you’d like to find out how you can help donate to the cause, click here.


Hamilton County’s ‘Wellness Unit’ part of nationwide effort to improve mental health among officers

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An initiative to improve employee well-being at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is among a spate of efforts across the nation to address mental health concerns among officers.

Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush announced the department’s new “Wellness Unit”  — devoted to the physical, mental and spiritual health of its deputies, correctional officers and civilian employees — Friday in a Facebook post.

“Our guys really care about the public,” he said Monday in an interview with News 8. “When you see somebody who’s injured or victimized, it really impacts us… We’re only human.”

The Wellness Unit launched in January with funding approved by county council members and commissioners.

Appointments are held off-site at undisclosed locations to protect the privacy of employees. Supervisors are not briefed on which employees seek counseling or what they discuss during sessions.

Information gathered during counseling sessions will not be used to demote or discipline employees, and will only be disclosed if required by law, including when somebody poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The department’s entire staff will receive training related to suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, critical incidents, addiction, mindfulness and officer wellness, the sheriff said.

Nearly 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI); the suicide rate for police officers is four times higher than the rate for firefighters.

Years of daily exposure to stress, trauma and tragedy can have other devastating consequences if appropriate coping skills are not developed, according to Susan Sherer-Vincent, a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcoholism counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist involved in launching the Wellness Unit.

“Think of the hurricanes that come in, in Florida, and think of the palm trees where they bend,” she explained. “But then, what happens afterwards? They go back up. That’s called resilience. We want our officers to bend, not break.”

Until approximately 3 to 5 years ago, officers were often conditioned to “pull [themselves] up by the bootstraps and go to the next call” instead of addressing personal struggles, Sherer-Vincent said.

Cultivating resiliency can be difficult within a law enforcement culture that equates mental health challenges with “weakness,” she said.

“[Officers] are trained to have the warrior mentality,” Sherer-Vincent told News 8. “Truly, they would have been made fun of [in the past for seeking counseling].”

She compared strong, silent officers with underdeveloped coping skills to California’s famed redwood trees.

“They’re pretty sturdy. But what would happen if you took an ax and hit those every single day, day after day, for years? They would eventually fall,” she said.

Quakenbush credits his wife, church and non-law enforcement friends with providing “a really good support system.”

“But sometimes, you need a professional,” he said, urging employees to “talk through” negative emotions instead of turning to alcohol and other substances for temporary relief.

Several internal cases that resulted in disciplinary action during his year-long tenure as sheriff may have been prevented with wellness-focused intervention, Quakenbush said.

He was unable to comment on personnel matters. 

Sources within the department indicated some of the cases involved employees with substance abuse issues that had escalated over time, possibly as a result of work-related stress that had gone unaddressed. 

“I wouldn’t say that [disciplinary action] was happening often,” Quakenbush told News 8. “But seeing it happen and knowing that we probably could have done something about it made it impactful and something that we wanted to make a priority.”

Hamilton County announced its Wellness Unit days after New York City police officials revealed plans to hire a team of psychologists to combat a spike in officer suicides.

On Feb. 13, Indianapolis police officials said they planned to swear in the department’s first full-time therapy dog by the end of March.

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