We enjoyed an action-packed two days in Bristol with important updates from the sarcoma community. ​

What is the British Sarcoma Group Conference?

This annual conference is a unique opportunity to meet and learn more from specialist clinicians, nurses and other professionals all working to research and/or treat sarcoma.

The busy programme included reviews of recent sarcoma clinical trials and research as well as updates to national treatment guidelines. There were sessions covering the management and support of teenagers and young adults with sarcoma, plus interactive case discussions, research and audit presentations and posters, and an international guest speaker.

We had a stand jam packed with the information we provide and were on hand to answer questions and get to know the conference delegates.

We were delighted to meet the fellowship winners of the National Sarcoma Awareness Project we fund to introduce sarcoma awareness, education and resources to medical students and junior doctors. Funded fellowships incentivise top students and doctors to sarcoma and allied specialities early in their career, with the hope that they will carry forward the research beacon to find a cure for sarcomas.

Junior doctor Charlie Zhou

Clinical Trials

Over the 2 day conference we were fortunate to hear from two of our researchers, along with Consultant Clinical Oncologists specialising in sarcoma, regarding clinical trials that are available to primary bone cancer patients as well as upcoming studies in the area to be aware of. On Wednesday, Dr Sandra Strauss gave a fantastic overview of the clinical trials that are currently available, while highlighting the areas where improvements can be made. A main area of improvement lies with increasing the clinical studies available specifically for osteosarcoma and chondrosarcoma patients. The Bone Cancer Research Trust is proud to be funding projects that are working directly towards this; such as our newly funded chondrosarcoma project, aiming to improve the accuracy and reliability of diagnostic methods, and our project with Professor Lee Jeys which is investigating the use of functional MRI scans to determine how an osteosarcoma patient is responding to chemotherapy in order to allow better treatment decisions and surgical planning to be made.

We also heard from Professor Jeremy Whelan who provided updates on the clinical trials that are currently recruiting patients; such as Euro-Ewings 2012 and rEECur. During his presentation, Professor Whelan highlighted the importance of teenager and young adult access to clinical trials.

Professor Jeremy Whelan told the clinicians, nurses and supporting professionals attending the British Sarcoma Group conference that

We’ve got to make the most of the clinical research options for our patients’’

We at the Bone Cancer Research Trust are very much in agreement with this and we are working alongside clinicians to increase patients knowledge and access to clinical trials. Just this week, we released our ‘Guide to Clinical Trials’ to inform patients about what it means to take part in a trial while providing a list of the currently recruiting clinical trials available to them to aid patient-doctor discussions around clinical research.

Prize-winning posters

During the conference, attendees had the opportunity to view 58 scientific posters highlighting the research being carried out into sarcoma. A wide range of projects were seen and winning posters awarded.

Huge congratulations to Mariona Chicón-Bosch, who was awarded 1st prize in the poster competition! Mariona is a PhD student in Professor Sue Burchill’s laboratory group at the University of Leeds. The group are researching Ewing sarcoma and you can read more about the aspect of this project that we are supporting here.

Further congratulations goes to Emma Haagensen who works alongside Kenneth Rankin in Newcastle. Emma was awarded 2nd place for her poster of the group’s work, which was awarded funding from us during our 2016 ‘Strictly Research’ grant round. The funding we provided allowed a ‘Theranostic Nanoparticle’ to be created, and it is fantastic to see this work progressing and being highlighted during the BSG conference. Read more about Kenneth Rankin and Emma Haagensen’s work here.

It was also fantastic to see two posters showing details of our collaborative work with Sarcoma UK and Children with Cancer UK respectively.

Recognition of our research

Dr Harriet Holme provided updates on her project, funded by The Bone Cancer Research Trust, which is investigating the genetic profile of osteosarcoma. Dr Holme has been comparing normal, healthy, cells to osteosarcoma cells in the laboratory to determine specific genes that are playing a role in the initiation and progression of osteosarcoma.

Her work has enabled these identified genetic dependencies to be made publicly available on www.cancergd.org, and become accessible for others working in the area. Her project hopes to identify the genetic profile of osteosarcoma and highlight potential targets for treatment. You can read more on Harriet's work here.

Looking to the future

Craig Gerrand, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and President of the British Sarcoma Group, closed the two day conference with a round-up of the insightful and innovative projects mentioned during the meetings.

We certainly learnt a huge amount, from meeting nurses and engaging them with our information and the services we can offer, to speaking directly with researchers and clinicians to gain clarity on our research priorities. It was really interesting to hear more about the pioneering work being carried out by The Christie in Manchester to open a new proton beam therapy treatment centre next year.

Upcoming conferences

We look forward to our next conference, The 1st Sheffield Workshop of Translational Research in Bone Sarcoma, taking place at the University of Sheffield in June 2017. We are delighted to be sponsoring this event, which will bring together researchers in the field and put a spotlight on the work of young researchers.

Our own free-to-attend annual Bone Cancer Conference will take place on Saturday 22 July. This unique uplifting event brings the primary bone cancer community together like no other. You will be immersed in the latest developments from our researchers and get unprecedented insight into the work of the charity whilst meeting other people who have been affected by primary bone cancer.

Patients, former patients, family members & friends, researchers, health care professionals, you are all our community and you are all welcome at the Bone Cancer Conference 2017. Register your free place now!