The Bone Cancer Research Trust is delighted to announce our most recent grant funding awards. Thanks to your donations, we are delighted to be awarding two Research Explorer Grants. The second of these grants has been awarded to Professor Agamemnon Grigoriadis, of King's College London, allowing him to continue his pioneering research into developing new treatment options for osteosarcoma patients.

About treatment options for osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma survival rates have not improved in over 25 years and this is partially due to the tumour's ability to spread to other areas of the body, namely the lungs, in a process known as metastasis. There is an urgent need to develop new treatment options that can target osteosarcoma metastasis in order for patient outcomes to improve.

Professor Grigoriadis wishes to focus his efforts and expertise in to this area and expand on his work investigating a potential treatment target known as FGFR. He hopes that by investigating FGFR in osteosarcoma patient samples, the true benefit of this targeted treatment can be clarified and brought one step closer to the clinic.

What is Professor Grigoriadis's project investigating?

Following successful research projects funded by the Bone Cancer Research Trust back in 2007 and 2009, Professor Grigoriadis has been able to confirm the expression of a well-known cell membrane receptor, known as FGFR (Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor), in osteosarcomas. Furthermore, he has proved that FGFR plays an important role in osteosarcomas growth, invasion and the development of lung metastases. Professor Grigoriadis now wishes to expand this work and investigate FGFR’s exact mechanism in closer detail; determining if, and how, this molecule can be targeted in order to develop a new treatment option for patients to prevent osteosarcoma’s progression and spread.

He aims to investigate the effects of drugs that target FGFR alone and in combination with other targeted agents to see if this research can be taken one step closer to the clinic. Work looking at the levels of FGFR and other associated molecules will also need to be done in human samples of osteosarcoma to validate the results seen in the laboratory.

How could this project improve treatment options for osteosarcoma patients?

This work has potential to make a direct benefit to oteosarcoma patients and reduce the number and severity of lung metastases that are able to develop after treatment. FGFR has been implicated in the development and progression of many different cancers and is seen in much higher levels in the cancer cells compared to normal healthy cells, which means treatments can specifically target the cancer cells and leave the normal cells in tact. This will result in less side effects for the patient. Drugs targeting both FGFR and associated molecules are being pursued in clinical trials for other cancer types and show limited toxicity to patients. This is extremely positive and means that if Professor Grigoriadis’s work is successful, the time required for these drugs to reach osteosarcoma patients in the clinic could be dramatically reduced.

Professor Grigoriadis said:

This proposal investigates the signals that can turn normal bone cells into cancer-causing cells and which give these cancerous cells the ability to travel through the body and form metastasis in other organs.

We have recently identified two cooperating biological pathways that seem to drive these tumour cells to metastasise to the lungs. Investigating how these two pathways work together and how we can stop their activities will provide invaluable biological knowledge and may lead to potential novel targets for this disease.

The generous funding from the Bone Cancer Research Trust will enable us to perform key experiments to address this question, hopefully leading to the exciting possibility that patients will benefit from combinatorial drug therapies to these signals, ultimately leading to improved patient outcome."

The Bone Cancer Research Trust are delighted to continue working with Professor Grigoriadis and his team at King's College London in order to investigate this much required treatment option. Professor Grigoriadis has been working alongside the charity since 2007 and has even fundraised for the charity on multiple occasions. We look forward to seeing the progression of this exciting work!

Read more about our other most recent Research Explorer Grant, which is exploring a promising new biomarker for chondrosarcoma, here.