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When cancer cells have low levels of oxygen they are harder to treat and have a higher chance of returning after surgery. This project is developing a method which can measure the amount of oxygen in soft tissue sarcoma cells. With this information, harder to treat sarcomas can be identified early. The data can also be used to identify drugs which target these low-level oxygen cancer cells.

Development of a gene signature as a biomarker of tumour hypoxia in soft tissue sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcomas can be removed by surgery, but may return. All cancers are different which affects how they respond to treatment. A test is needed to predict which tumours will return and what treatments will prevent this.

Low oxygen levels in cancer, called hypoxia, make them harder to treat. Research has identified a gene signature to measure hypoxia in sarcomas. The signature needs testing in cells in a laboratory to make sure the signature is definitely measuring hypoxia in soft tissue sarcoma. 

This project aims to find out which genes are expressed when sarcoma cells are hypoxic and use the information to measure hypoxia. The project will also use the gene expression data to identify which drugs kill hypoxic sarcoma cells.

The project will test seven sarcoma cell lines grown in high and low oxygen, with the results used to improve the gene signature test. The research will find out whether the signature predicts how patients respond to treatment. The gene signature data can also be studied to find potential drug targets for hypoxic sarcoma cells.

This research has the potential to identify patients who would benefit from treatment targeting hypoxia to improve their outcome in soft tissue sarcoma.




  • Poster presented at the British Sarcoma Group Conference. February, 2018. Birmingham, UK


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