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 cancer that causes the bone to be destroyed. This study is looking at the processes by which Ewing’s cells disrupt normal bone biology and cause the destruction of the bone. By understanding the process by which bone is destroyed, treatments can be developed which prevent it from happening.
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.
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.
After treatment for bone or soft tissue sarcoma, many patients can be left with difficulties performing physical tasks such as walking or climbing stairs. The extent of these difficulties needs to be accurately recorded in order to know how best to improve the quality of life of these patients after treatment. This project is testing various new movement tracking technologies to see which device could be used to record data from sarcoma patients.
Despite advances in conventional chemotherapy and radiation, complete cures for most cancer types, including sarcoma, remain elusive. The challenge is to develop highly targeted therapies that kill cancer cells but leave normal cells healthy. A big advance in cancer treatment in the past 20 years has been the discovery and application of ‘targeted therapies’. Targeted therapies are medicines that specifically act on parts of the sarcoma cells and either kill the cells or stop them growing.
If one day we can identify individuals at high risk of developing sarcomas this could lead to earlier detection and more effective treatment of these tumours. Sarcoma studies involving families have so far been limited to a lot of work in children, but the 90% of sarcomas that arise in adults have not been represented. The International Sarcoma Kindred Study (ISKS) has been set up to identify, validate and quantify genetic risk in patients with adult-onset sarcoma.
This project is investigating the role of a gene called ‘TAZ’ in rhabdomyosarcoma, looking at how TAZ can be used in diagnosis, how it effects treatment, and if it can be used as a future drug target. It has the potential to improve both the diagnosis and treatment of patients with rhabdomyosarcoma.