Sarcomas are rare tumours that account for approximately 1% of all cancers in the UK. They represent a challenge to treating clinicians as diagnosis is often delayed and the tumours are commonly in an advanced stage or have spread to other parts of the body. Current treatment approaches for these advanced tumours have shown only modest response rates of 12-24% and are associated with significant toxicity in patients.
This proposal aims to develop new bioactive materials to improve clinical outcomes for patients suffering from bone sarcoma. The developed materials will provide a control release of key metal ions to induce tumour cell death and simultaneously stimulate grow new bone. In addition the material will contain natural antibacterial agents to reduce the probability of surgical site infections. Furthermore we envisage that the material will enhance blood flow therefore significantly reducing patient healing times.
This study looks at the quality of life of patients being treated for advanced sarcoma. Prospective means it looks at patients as they go along, which gives stronger data. This is better than retrospective data which looks at events in the past where memory or uncertainty often makes the information unreliable.
People with locally advanced or sarcoma that has spread or whose sarcoma has have had recurred after surgery may only be eligible for palliative treatment so quality of life becomes the primary concern rather than defeating the sarcoma.
Deaths from cancer in children are, thankfully, rare. However, a leading cause of cancer related deaths in children is rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue sarcoma. More effective treatments are urgently required and Dr Shipley proposed that increased understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms in development and spread of rhabdomyosarcoma would yield new angles for investigation.
This is an example of a translational research project, looking at ways to transfer results from the laboratory into a clinical trial in patients in a Phase 1 Trial. They are developing a system for treating limb sarcomas using Isolated Limb Perfusion (ILP) as well as oncolyic virotherapy (anti-cancer viruses)
This is a basic science project, finding out more about how chromosome abnormalities in the nuclei of sarcoma cells might upset the regulation of cell turnover. If they can understand more about this it might be an opening to developing new approaches to treatment.
Ewing's sarcoma is a highly aggressive bone tumour which predominantly affects children, adolescents and young adults. It is a tumour that causes extensive bone destruction and can spread rapidly. The bone destruction in Ewing’s is caused by osteoclasts, specialised bone cells which normally breakdown bone in balance with osteoblasts which build it up This study aims to look more closely at the way Ewing’s cells promote osteoclast formation which then knocks normal bone biology out of kilter, increasing bone destruction.
In humans angiosarcomas are rare, aggressive tumours of blood vessels. Angiogenesis is the process of new blood vessel formation and is controlled by a number of different growth factors. The researchers think it is likely that these growth factors are important in the development of angiosarcoma, and that treatments targeting these factors will be useful for patients with angiosarcoma. Whilst human angiosarcoma is rare the tumour is much more common in dogs and it will be seen by vets in their surgeries when your GP will never see a case.
Janet’s project is in liposarcoma. Liposarcomas are a type of soft tissue sarcoma that arises in fat cells. Well-differentiated (WD) liposarcomas have clear cell walls and a regular appearence under the microscope. De-differentiated (DD) liposarcomas are much messier and irregular. Both are the most frequent subtype of liposarcomas in adults. Well-differentiated liposarcomas can recur looking more like the de-differentiated type. This is associated with increased aggressiveness. In contrast, completely well-differentiated liposarcomas are usually readily curable.
Professor Flanagan is considered a leading expert in the field of chordoma research, both in the UK and internationally. Chordoma is a primary cancer of the bone that occurs in people of all ages. Due to the size, location and nature of these tumours, surgeons can often find them difficult to remove fully. Despite this, surgery is the mainstay of treatment because the tumours are resistant to radio- and chemotherapy. This project is undertaking lab-based experiments to identify new therapies to treat this disease.