Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) is the most common subtype of soft tissue sarcoma, accounting for about 10% of all cases. They are very aggressive and there are very few treatment options, so prognosis for patients can be poor.
This is because these cancers vary a great deal from person to person and are very complex, so we don’t understand enough about how they work.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
Through previous work, Professor Brunton and her team have set up a drug screen (a process to find drugs which behave in a particular way, to identify new potential new treatments for patients). They’ve already found some drugs which may be effective, so in this PhD project, the screen will be extended to look at a further set of known anti-cancer drugs and how they work. These drugs are already used in patients with other cancers, so if they’re effective against UPS, they could treat patients far more quickly.
Next, these drugs need to be tested in models which mimic how cancer behaves in people. PhD student Molly Danks will test these drugs in accurate laboratory models of UPS. She will also analyse how these drugs affect the activity of particular genes, and whether they change the environment around the cancer cells. These can be markers of how well the drugs are working.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
By both developing better models of undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma and testing potential new drugs on them, the team hope to get us a step closer to making new treatments available for people with this rare and aggressive cancer.
Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) is the most common subtype of soft tissue sarcoma. However, these cancers vary a great deal from person to person and are genetically very complex, meaning that there are very few new treatment options.