We started 2020 by awarding five new Infrastructure Grants to the NHS bone cancer surgical centres in England. The grants enable them to continue collecting patient samples for use in research. We interviewed Mr Kenny Rankin, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon from the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, who has received one of our grants.

Can you tell us your role and your involvement in the Infrastructure Grants?

I am an orthopaedic surgeon but spend half my time in the lab doing research, including projects using patient samples. When the Bone Cancer Research Trust were considered setting up these grants, I had some input into what would be helpful to researchers doing this sort of work.

Why do you think it's so important to fund tissue sample collections?

It is important because it provides each centre with support to routinely collect samples, which are used locally or sent elsewhere in the country to researchers.

What difference has the Grant made at the Freeman Hospital?

The main difference has been the increase in the number of samples collected. This has happened because the support is flexible. The Bone Cancer Research Trust have allowed each centre to adjust the funds to suit their local needs. At the Freeman Hospital, funds are used to cover ‘per patient costs’ for the research team to consent to sample donation. This means fewer patients are missed. On the university side, we have a part-time technician in place who has been trained to collect and receive the samples. They log and process them, either for experiments locally or send on to other centres as required.

What difference do you think the Grants will make for patients?

In the short-term patients are keen to see their samples used for research so the vast majority are happy to donate them. In the longer term these samples will start to make a difference in terms of identifying new therapeutic targets. A good example is one of our osteosarcoma patients who helped me to validate a protein named MT1-MMP as a therapeutic option, and I have now referred two bone sarcoma patients to the Christie for consideration in an early phase clinical trial of a novel drug which targets this protein.

Is there a message you would like to send to our supporters?

Donating tissue and blood samples makes a difference. The infrastructure grants have boosted our ability as researchers to collect more samples and to collaborate. Long may it continue!

The Infrastructure Grants were awarded to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Freeman Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital. We would like to thank them for their ongoing commitment to the project.