During our 10th anniversary patient conference in May this year, we held a Strictly Come Dancing style vote off with our scientific researchers. Scientists were asked to present their research idea live to our scientific panel and lay audience of supporters to form our Strictly Research event.

Our Strictly Research judges, Professor Donald Salter, Karen Blakey and trustee Pip Large, awarded scores and offered feedback on the presentations and the audience of patients, families and supporters were then invited to then vote for their favourite in order to crown our winners.

We funded four projects that work towards answering questions in the field of primary bone cancer, be that in developing therapies or improving the diagnosis and care of primary bone cancer patients. Our funding was awarded to Professor Jeremy Whelan, Dr Richard Craig, Dr Helen Knowles and our overall winner Kenneth Rankin, of The University of Newcastle, who will receive additional funding in order to present his work at a relevant conference.

The projects are now up and running and in the early stages of planning and putting regulatory procedures and ethical approvals in place for the research to push forward. Our winning project, carried out by Kenneth Rankin and his team, is investigating a drug that will be used for both therapeutic and diagnostic purposes to improve the outcomes for Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma patients. This drug is called a 'Theranostic Nanoparticle (TNP)', and once activated it can specifically destroy cancerous cells while reducing the toxicity to healthy cells. TNP may also improve the clarity of MRI scans to witness the tumours response to therapy to help with further treatment planning and predicting patient’s prognosis.

A collaboration between The University of Newcastle and The University of Durham has now been set up to allow the production of TNP. Furthermore, the team at Newcastle have successfully transferred a ‘tracker’ molecule into the osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma cells so that the formation and growth of these tumours can be visualised in the laboratory – which is a crucial step in allowing the effectiveness of the TNP in destroying the cancerous cells and shrinking the tumour to be assessed.

Click here for more detail on the Strictly Research projects.