Leiomyosarcoma is a common type of soft tissue sarcoma. Current treatments are chemotherapies, which have many side effects and don’t work for everyone. And like many sarcomas, there aren’t any targeted treatments available for leiomyosarcoma.
In this project, Professor Val Brunton aims to identify new drugs that could improve outcomes for patients with leiomyosarcoma. She will also aim to find specific genetic changes in the cancer that predict if a drug is likely to work.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
Made of real patient cells, models of sarcoma are designed to mimic how it behaves in your body. The team will use 12 different models of leiomyosarcoma in the laboratory. Professor Brunton and her team will test the cells with different drugs and monitor their effects. DNA from cancer cells will be examined using whole genome sequencing, a detailed type of genetic testing. The team will then compare the results of drug testing and whole genome sequencing to find genetic changes that predict whether a drug is effective.
The team will also review genetic testing results of some existing cancer samples. This will include patients with leiomyosarcoma who responded to the drug olaparib in an early clinical trial. This will help the team confirm the genetic changes associated with drug response in patients.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
This is a hugely exciting project. It could help select the right patients to take part in future clinical trials using drugs like olaparib and could also identify other treatments which cause similar genetic changes. Some of the drugs that the team will investigate are already used for patients with other cancer types. So if the research shows they work, they could be available more quickly to patients with leiomyosarcoma. Finally, whole genome sequencing is now routinely available on the NHS. This means it is vital we understand how genetics affects the chance of a drug working well for each patient so that the right drug is offered to the right person.