We are hugely excited about the potential of genomics for sarcoma research.
Since 2012, the 100,000 Genomes Project has been collecting tissue samples from people with rare conditions and their families. Our Genomics Research Programme aimed to bring together the best minds and the latest technologies in sarcoma research, to use data from the Project to advance our understanding of sarcoma. Up to 500 of the genomes sequenced are from people with sarcoma, and over 1000 tissue samples have been collected in total.
Read more about why genomics is important for sarcoma.
In 2018, we awarded £250,000 to Professor Adrienne Flanagan at UCL Cancer Institute in London. This research project is a unique three-year study into the nature of sarcoma, which examines and catalogue the breadth of variation in genetic mutations – a first for sarcoma.
And in 2019, we awarded our second grant to Professor Andrew Beggs at the University of Birmingham. This project analyses the faults in single cells within tumours. They will also analyse gene activity and the proteins produced within cells in soft tissue sarcoma, and compare these with people without sarcoma. They plan to use this information to create a highly precise map of the mutations that are driving the development of sarcoma.
2020 saw us award the third £250,000 grant under this programme to Dr Zoë Walters, based at the University of Southampton. Dr Walters and her team are taking genomic data to identify specific genetic changes which cause dedifferentiated liposarcoma. They will then explore if these genetic changes can be successfully targeted with drugs, with the hope of identifying a new and better treatment for this sarcoma.
Why genomic research?
Professor Adrienne Flanagan speaks about the potential of genomics research for sarcoma.
Through research like this we hope to learn more about the complex genetics underpinning sarcoma. Understanding more about the genome could tell us why sarcomas don’t respond well to immunotherapies that are usually effective in other forms of cancer. And deepening our insight into how differences in our genomes impact our response to treatments could also help doctors to put together personalised treatment plans tailored specifically to each patient using information from their genome. In time, we hope that genomic research will tell us more about the causes of sarcoma, and pave the way to improved treatment options and better outcomes for everyone with sarcoma.