Prof Flanagan
Monday, February 11, 2019

A major new piece of research at University College London will bring together 35 scientific experts from across the UK to investigate approximately 1,000 genetic sarcoma samples collected from the Government’s 100,000 Genomes Project.

For the first time ever, the Sarcoma Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership (GeCIP) will examine and catalogue the breadth of variation in genetic mutations in sarcoma. Like other cancers, sarcoma is caused by changes in the genetic code, similar to spelling errors in the instructions for a person’s genetic make-up. Data from the samples - the largest ever collection of its kind internationally – should make spotting any genomic patterns or trends far easier.

Professor Adrienne Flanagan from the UCL Cancer Institute leads the research project. She says: “What we have now is a major opportunity to get an unprecedented understanding of sarcoma cancer on a molecular level.  

“Our lack of knowledge surrounding the different sarcoma subtypes on a genomic basis, and the way they develop and evolve, has led to a current treatment vacuum for the disease. Sarcoma UK’s funding is a catalyst that enables us to look at all sarcomas and analyse what happens across all subtypes.”

The three-year project, made possible from a £250,000 grant from Sarcoma UK, should give researchers an insight into how sarcoma develops resistance to drugs and treatments. Any new understanding of the disease will be used to drive improvements in personalised treatments and targeted therapies for patients. The library of genetic alterations collated by the end of the project will also provide a crucial resource for researchers studying sarcoma in the future.

Richard Davidson, Chief Executive of Sarcoma UK, says: “This is one of the most important pieces of research into a cancer that has been frequently overlooked. The impact this work could have on the thousands of people affected by the cancer in the UK and beyond is vast.”