Professor Graham Cook tells us why funding our first ever immunotherapy research project - Oncolytic virus therapy for Ewing sarcoma is so important and the difference it will make to patients and researchers of the future.
What aspects of this project make it really stand out from other Ewing sarcoma research taking place at the moment?
Our research looks at new treatments being used in other cancers and applies them to Ewing's sarcoma. These drugs work by getting the patient's immune system, the way we normally get rid of coughs and colds, to attack Ewing's sarcoma this is called immunotherapy and it is working well in other cancers. However, we won't turn our back on the existing treatments. We think that combining treatments is the way forward, using new immunotherapy drugs alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
How important is the funding provided by the Bone Cancer Research Trust for this project?
It's vital. We could not do the work without BCRT's support. Funding the work over four years allows us to tackle a big problem. Also, I can't pretend that research is always plain sailing, you sometimes go down blind alleys and biology doesn't always work the way you think it should. With longer term funding you go deeper, learn more and make more progress. There is another important aspect to this funding. It is funding a PhD studentship. We need to invest and train young scientists, they represent the future of research and how it will shape and improve treatment in the years to come.
What would you say to the Bone Cancer Research Trust supporters that are specifically raising money for Ewing sarcoma research?
Keep up the good work! Ewing's sarcoma is a relatively rare cancer and doesn't attract the level of research funding that some of the more common cancers do. However, it remains a very challenging condition for all of the patients and their families and more research is needed to tackle it. Your support makes that happen. Thank you.
What difference will this project make for Ewing sarcoma patients in the future?
The agents we are testing in the lab are in clinical trials in other cancers. This reduces the time between lab-based research and a clinical trial. If we get promising results in the lab then we can work with our clinical colleagues to start trials in Ewing's sarcoma.
Click here to find out more about this pioneering research project.