We spoke to Dr Iben Lyskjaer and she tells us more about our new research project which aims to develop a new blood-based test for detection of small tumour-derived fragments in the blood from osteosarcoma and chordoma patients.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University College London Cancer Institute. I finished my PhD in Health Sciences from Aarhus University, Denmark, last year, where I focused on designing a blood-based test for the detection of tumour DNA in colorectal cancer. After my PhD, I moved with my husband and our two sons to London in order for me to investigate the complex characteristics of sarcoma tumours and to continue my development into an independent cancer researcher.
Can you tell us about the project and its aims?
This project aims at developing a new blood-based test for detection of small tumour-derived fragments (known as circulating tumour DNA or ctDNA) in the blood from osteosarcoma and chordoma patients. Tumours shed small pieces of DNA into the blood stream, and by looking for osteosarcoma and chordoma tumour-specific markers/tags we can measure the levels of tumour DNA in the body.
So far, we have identified tumour-specific markers for a variety of tumours and with the funding awarded from the Bone Cancer Research Trust we are now able to test our markers in both tumour and blood DNA from patients with osteosarcoma and chordoma. We will be able to use these markers to measure the level of tumour DNA in the blood and determine whether the test can be used to monitor patients post treatment for residual disease and early disease relapse.
What difference could this project make for patients with chordoma and osteosarcoma in the future?
This pilot-study will be the first step towards applying circulating tumour DNA analysis to monitor disease status, response to neoadjuvant therapies, and to detect residual disease in patients with osteosarcoma and chordoma. Ultimately, this will provide a more personalised treatment for patients, detect relapse early using a non-invasive simple blood test and provide more accurate prognoses. An added benefit of such tests would subsequently result in a reduction in the schedule of often inconvenient and expensive medical imaging that patients undergo for surveillance.
How important is the funding provided by the Bone Cancer Research Trust and what would you say to our supporters who are raising funds for research?
The funding awarded from the Bone Cancer Research Trust will facilitate a timely execution of this project. We are grateful for BCRT supporters that continue to raise money and making projects like ours possible.