Professor Adrienne Flanagan, who is based at University College London, specialises in the pathology of bone and soft-tissue tumours and is the lead of the International Cancer Genome Consortium for bone tumours. She has carried out some of the most successful research in the bone cancer field, working with osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and chordoma.
Professor Flanagan first began working with the Bone Cancer Research Trust in 2007. Since then she has carried out 4 research projects funded by the charity and was the co-lead on another, producing 10 research publications that discuss the findings of her work funded by the Bone Cancer Research Trust.
Back in 2011, the Bone Cancer Research Trust provided funding to support a Biobank Technician in Professor Flanagan’s laboratory, which enabled the team to generate osteosarcoma patient samples to be used in research. This project was extremely successful and, alongside sharing these samples with researchers in the USA, it has progressed research in the area of osteosarcoma by a providing future researchers with the samples and data they require to conduct their research. Recently, these samples allowed researchers to confirm that the gene damage and mutations that arise following ionizing radiation have the potential to lead to the development of secondary cancers.
While discussing these promising findings, Professor Flanagan told us:
I would like to thank the Bone Cancer Research Trust for your continued support, which makes such a big difference to allowing us to undertake our research on rare cancers. This current paper provides insight into the damage that is done at a DNA level as a result of radiation - not only on bone tumours but also other more common cancers such as prostate cancer!
As well her work with osteosarcoma, Professor Flanagan has become an expert in the gene profiling of other forms of primary bone cancer, known as chondrosarcoma and chordoma. Professor Flanagan’s work with us aims to identify what is known as ‘biomarkers’ of chondrosarcoma, allowing clinicians to determine the grade and severity of chondrosarcoma earlier on – which is currently quite difficult. Using gene sequencing to identify these biomarkers will allow clinicians to make appropriate decisions regarding the individual patients’ treatment plan and surgical procedures, while predicting the behaviour of the chondrosarcoma tumour. It is hoped that in the future these findings will be introduced into the clinic as potential treatment targets, aiming to improve patient outcome.