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Tyler Trent inspires first published research on his donated tumors

The impact of the Purdue superfan and his prominent battle with relapsing osteosarcoma continues to inspire the scientific fight against cancer.

INDIANAPOLIS — Almost two years have passed since Tyler Trent died from a rare bone cancer. But the impact of the Purdue super fan and his prominent battle with relapsing osteosarcoma continues to inspire the scientific fight against cancer.

Cancer finally took Tyler's life Jan. 1, 2019 but not before he became a national hero promoting childhood cancer research. The IU School of Medicine has for the first time published results of research done on tumors that Tyler donated. The article is posted in the international oncology journal "Cancers."

The reference "TT2" can be seen throughout the report and refers to cancer cell models from Tyler Trent. Researchers used a combination drug therapy that slowed tumor growth and improved survival.   

"It brings a lot of emotion to think that your child has some role and some play in potentially saving lives someday," said Tony Trent, Tyler's father.  

Dr. Karen Pollok led the study. She met Tyler at his Carmel home during his bedside hospice in the final weeks of his life.   

"When you can put a name to the actual cells that you're working on in the lab, and then you know the family and you continue to stay in contact with these families, it just really takes it to another dimension," Pollok said.  

Tony and Kelly Trent say their oldest son would be smiling at the work being done almost two years after his death. "That's something that I'm going to take, and it's going to bring a lot of comfort to me," said Kelly, Tyler's mother. "You know that it's not in vain, right? You know that Tyler's life stood for something and it's helping other kids and families."

Credit: Rich Nye/WTHR
Tony (L) and Kelly Trent.

Donations in Tyler's name for cancer research at Purdue and Riley Hospital now total around $2.5 million. You can still support the Tyler Trent Cancer Research endowment for Riley Hospital.

Pollok said Tyler's advocacy has encouraged other families to donate tumor tissue. Her team is now working with eight cancer cell models to test more widespread effectiveness of the combination therapy on relapsing childhood osteosarcoma. 

Editor's note: This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Dr. Pollok's name.

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