This year's Bone Cancer Research Trust annual patient conference saw the launch of our 2017 – 2022 strategy: The Biggest Ever Commitment to Primary Bone Cancer. This strategy helps us work towards our ultimate ambition of finding a cure for primary bone cancer and leads us into new directions to progress our work over our four strategic foundations of research, information, awareness and support.

To learn more about our strategy and read the document in full, please click here.

One of our main areas of focus in our 5-year strategy is research. We are uniquely placed to make a difference through research and have made significant progress since our inception in 2006. To date we have funded 93 researchers, over 61 individual projects, and are proud to commit over £2.8 million into research alone before 2022.

We took the advice from our research community and highlighted three exciting research announcements during our 2017 Bone Cancer Conference. Read on to learn more these including our largest ever grant call, our search for our next PhD student and our efforts to improve patient sample collection.

Our Largest Ever Grant Funding

While developing our strategy we engaged with our research community during large conferences held by the British Sarcoma Group and the National Cancer Research Institute to learn more about what they require from our funding. Our researchers informed us of the difficulty to gain funding for large primary bone cancer projects. The Bone Cancer Research Trust wants to ensure that all projects are supported, no matter their size.

We have been working closely with the National Cancer Research Institute's Bone Sarcoma Clinical Specialist Group and feel passionately that funding into osteosarcoma is an urgent priority. There have been no significant changes in survival rates for osteosarcoma patients for at least three decades and with a lack of Phase III clinical trials available for patients, a push in this area is desperately required. Although there has been lots of fantastic research into osteosarcoma, this work has been on a smaller scale and done in isolation. We feel our patients deserve better and a step change is needed if we are going to tackle this. We are delighted to announce our largest ever grant funded into this area; supporting large, collaborative projects which will bring together the greatest minds in the field of osteosarcoma.

This funding will be aimed at pushing laboratory research one step closer to the clinic and follow-up on any new leads identified by research such as the 100,000 Genomes Project. This funding will ensure promising biomarkers or targets are validated, and has the ultimate goal of getting several new treatments into a sophisticated clinical trial with arms open to osteosarcoma patients of all ages and past treatment. We want to support our clinical colleagues to develop a framework that will allow any candidate treatments to get to trials with minimum time delays.

We are opening our largest grant call in our history and the greatest opportunity to date for the UK to lead the way in osteosarcoma research, with the grant call opening at the end of July 2017.

PhD Studentship

The Bone Cancer Research Trust have always been keen to support young researchers, we see them as the future experts in primary bone cancer and we need to ensure they are supported throughout their career. A PhD studentship covers between 3 and 4 years of funding for an extensive and in-depth research project into primary bone cancer. This funding not only allows a new area of primary bone cancer to be explored, but also the development of promising young scientist into a mature and independent researcher.

The Bone Cancer Research Trust have funded 5 of the brightest young minds in this area through our PhD studentships and we are delighted to announce we are shortly to fund our 6th student!

Our next PhD studentship will begin in 2018 and so our grant call for this funding will open on 1st August 2017!

Infrastructure Grants

For many years, the Bone Cancer Research Trust have been passionate about promoting patient sample collection and sharing samples across our research community. These samples provide researchers with the best insight into primary bone cancer and allows the potential to identify new ways to treat this disease. Our Head of Research and Information, Dr Zoe Davison, has been working to engage with the 5 ‘Bone Cancer Surgical Centres’ across England to encourage a national effort and collaboration to improve the collection of patient samples for research.

We are very pleased to announce that this hard work has been successful and this work is heading in the right direction. Just last week, we were able to provide grants to 4 of the 5 Bone Cancer Surgical Centres to support their efforts to collect patient samples and share these in research. Plans to provide the 5th centre with an infrastructure grant are still ongoing and we are hopeful that these arrangements can be finalised in the not so distant future.

The Bone Cancer Research Trust want to ensure that every patient has the opportunity to donate their samples to research, should they wish to do so, and these new Infrastructure Grants offer the best tools and support to allow this to happen. These grants will provide centres with funds according to where they need them to support sample collection; be that in a piece of equipment or a member of staff’s time. While these grants will not go directly to a research project, they have the potential to facilitate many different projects that probably wouldn’t be successful without such funding. Furthermore, these grants create an operational group between the Bone Cancer Surgical Centres, which will be coordinated by the Bone Cancer Research Trust, to allow visibility of samples and the sharing of best practice.

Hear more from Dr Zoe Davison regarding these grants here.