We spoke to Professor Mittnacht from University College London, Cancer Institute about our newly awarded research project. The project aims to use a bone model outside of the body to study how osteosarcoma develops and test potential new treatment options.
Can you tell us about the project?
The project funded by Bone Cancer Research Trust aims to develop methodology through which it will be possible to study osteosarcoma within its natural environment, but outside the patient. The programme of work involves close collaboration with a tissue engineering team lead by Professor Wenhui Song. The Song team has world recognised expertise in developing bone tissue outside of the body.
What are the aims of the project?
The project will make use of this technology to enable the growth of osteosarcoma tumours from patients in their natural context, yet outside the patient’s body. A further partner is Dr Sandra Strauss, a clinical oncologist who treats patients with osteosarcoma, who will provide her expertise on how these tumours mirror those inside the body. In addition, this way of collaborating will allow potential treatments to be tested and determine their effectiveness before they are given to the patient. The overarching goal of this project is to generate a realistic model for the study of osteosarcoma. If successful, it could be extended to other forms of primary bone cancer as the search continues for new and more effective medicines.
What differences could this project make for future patients?
As with all rare cancers, there are great difficulties to conduct robust clinical trials that could help improve treatment and there is recognised need for the development of models that faithfully replicate the way osteosarcoma develops and grow in patients. If successful, this approach will allow researchers to gain a deeper understanding of how osteosarcoma tumours develop and grow and importantly, how they respond to potentially personalised treatment options.