Gynaecological sarcomas (GS) start in the female reproductive organs and grow and spread very quickly. Unlike other gynaecological cancers that have seen improved survival rates in recent years, GS patients still have poor outcomes. Few targeted therapies for GS are clinically approved, meaning treatment options are limited. So, we need less toxic and better treatments to improve survival rates for patients with GS.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
One of the reasons that sarcomas are challenging to treat is that we do not fully understand their biology. This means that we don’t have the knowledge to develop new drugs to stop the cancer growing and spreading. There is also no way to tell who is most likely to benefit from treatment. By undertaking detailed analyses of the biological features of gynaecological sarcomas, we can facilitate the discovery of new therapies and biomarkers. These are biological indicators of how a cancer is progressing or responding to treatment.
The team will study the protein composition and immune cells in 98 GS tumours from The Royal Marsden Hospital. Firstly, the team will carry out molecular analysis of surgical tissue from gynaecological sarcoma patients to spot possible drug targets. They will also look for protein signatures. These show the different types and amounts of proteins that are found in the sarcoma samples. Next, the team will work out if these protein signatures combined with immune cell profiles can predict which patients are at higher risk of their sarcoma coming back or spreading.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
Most drugs work by blocking proteins in cancer cells so these studies will provide a direct link to the discovery of new drug targets. If successful, this project will lead to the development of new treatments for GS patients in the long term. It will also generate a knowledge bank of biological data for the sarcoma community. Finally, it could help doctors choose the best therapies for individual patients, ultimately improving patient outcomes.
By undertaking detailed analyses of the biological features of gynaecological sarcomas, we can facilitate the discovery of new therapies and biomarkers.