After receiving funding from the Bone Cancer research Trust, Professor Farida Latif from the University of Birmingham published one of the first studies focussed on understanding what genes cause the development of chordomas.
Some genes that prevent the formation of tumours are temporarily switched-off in cancer. Professor Latif’s research identified these switched-off genes, in order to understand what causes chordoma, but also to develop biological flags that can be used to diagnose and/or predict the likely course of the disease.
The switching-off of certain genes occurs by a process called epigenetic inactivation, where certain molecules are added to DNA.
A unique feature of epigenetic inactivation is that it can be reversed by drugs that effectively switch-on these genes.
The initial results by Professor Latif demonstrated the potential for epigenetic targeting of genes in chordoma - This could be a pioneering new way of treating chordoma.
These findings are now being explored further by a new Bone Cancer Research Trust funded project Ongogenic driver networks in chordoma, which is a collaboration between Dr Adam Cribbs from the University of Oxford and Dr Lucia Cottone from University College London, and aims to combine their expertise to find epigenetic targets for the treatment of chordoma.