Alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS) is a rare soft tissue sarcoma where patients are diagnosed at an average age of 25 years and have poor long-term survival of approximately 3 years. Cediranib is a targeted anticancer drug that blocks the formation and maintenance of tumour blood vessels, essentially depriving tumours of their required nutrients. The effectiveness of this drug was tested in the Cediranib in ASPS (CASPS) clinical trial, which showed that cediranib has activity in reducing tumour size in ASPS patients.
But during the CASPS clinical trial, some patients did not respond to treatment, and in others the effect of the drug wears off as the cancer develops resistance. However it is not understood why this happens.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
By utilising the clinical samples obtained from patients in the CASPS trial, this PhD project will investigate ways of identifying which patients are most likely to respond to cediranib and how best to prevent and treat drug resistance in ASPS. Through the study of blood and tissue samples from patients treated with cediranib or placebo, the project also aims to identify the biological features that allow sarcoma tumours to escape the anticancer effects of cediranib. In addition, the project will develop tools for real-time non-invasive monitoring of tumour response to drug treatment.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
Results from this project will show which people with alveolar soft part sarcoma are likely to benefit from cediranib. Being given the right treatment means patients can be treated more effectively, and reduces other effects like drug resistance.
Sarcoma UK is investing in research leaders of the future. Our PhD programme aims to start a researcher’s career in sarcoma by funding a training fellowship which focuses on a hypothesis-driven research project.