University of Sheffield
Professor Alison Gartland and Professor Dominique Heymann
Photo: Alison Gartland
‘It is shocking to note that osteosarcoma chemotherapy treatment hasn’t changed in the past 30 years, and doesn’t work in all cases. New ways to fight this devastating disease are clearly needed. As a result of funding from Willberry's Research, a team comprising a Post-Doctoral Researcher, PhD Student and intercalating BMedSci medical student, led by Professor of Bone and Cancer Biology Alison Gartland, will test over 5000 existing drugs and compounds for their effect in killing osteosarcoma cells. The team hopes to identify potentially useful new drugs and pathways to develop new more effective treatment to improve patient responses.’
The main current therapeutic approach for osteosarcoma is a combination of methotrexate, docorubicin, cisplatin, and/or ifosfamide associated with surgery. Unfortunately not all patients respond to these chemotherapy drugs, their tumour becomes ‘chemo-resistant’ and their overall 5-year survival rate is drastically reduced. The need for alternative, more effective treatments to increase the survival rates of osteosarcoma patients is clear. The scientific team being funded by Willberry's Research will use ‘High throughput screening’ or HTS, of compound ‘libraries’ to identify whether existing drugs can be used in osteosarcoma. Commercially available libraries will be used to enable the screening of over 5000 drugs and compounds in vitro. Top hits will be validated in pre-clinical models of osteosarcoma. This would provide a substantial opportunity to identify new drug candidates for rapid clinic/patient benefit as these compounds have already been approved for human use.
University of Southampton
Dr Stephen Beers, Dr Janos Kanczler and Dr Juliet Gray
Photo: Stephen Beers and Janos Kanczler
‘Osteosarcoma is the most common bone sarcoma in adolescents and has a poor outlook. Novel treatments for this poorly met patient group are clearly needed but their development is hampered by the complexity of the disease and the environment in which it grows. Stephen Beers, Janos Kanczler and Juliet Gray are a team of bone and cancer specialists brought together by funding from Willberry’s Research to generate a new 3-dimensional bone model of osteosarcoma which will allow them to better study the complex microenvironment in which drugs need to operate and to test potentially useful new drugs and strategies to improve patient responses.’
This project undertaken at the University of Southampton will focus initially on the drug mifamurtide (also known as Mepact) which is used in patients, but to which not all respond, to understand how this drug works and potentially how to make it work better in more patients.