We are delighted to award our first International Explorer Grant to Professor Aykut Üren from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, USA. The new project will investigate if an existing drug could be developed further to recognise and kill Ewing sarcoma cells, without entering and damaging normal cells, reducing side effects for patients.

About the project

Ewing sarcoma cells carry a protein on their surface called CD99 that plays a key role in the development and metastatic progression of Ewing sarcoma tumours; however, to date, there are no drugs that successfully inactivates this protein.

Clofarabine, a drug which is already used to treat children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, has been found to directly bind to CD99, restricting its activity.

Clofarabine efficiently kills Ewing sarcoma cells. However, it unfortunately causes severe side effects. These side effects are due to its ability to stop the production of DNA, a process that takes place inside the cell.

This pioneering project aims to develop clofarabine derivatives that can bind to CD99 on the cell surface, but are unable to enter the cell, therefore, cannot stop the production of DNA.

If successful, the drug will be able to selectively recognise and kill Ewing sarcoma cells, without entering and damaging normal cells, and therefore will cause much weaker side effects.

Dr Zoe Davison, Head of Research, Information & Support at the Bone Cancer Research Trust said:

Since 2006 the Bone Cancer Research Trust have invested into excellent research throughout the UK and have seen great results and progress made during this time. To ensure we continue funding the most innovative and pioneering research, we decided to open our recent Ewing sarcoma research grant call to the international community. We are delighted to to be awarding our first international research grant to Professor Aykut Üren and we are extremely excited about the potential that this project has for making real changes for Ewing sarcoma patients.

This project signifies a real opportunity to develop targeted treatment for Ewing sarcoma, something which is so desperately needed for patients around the world.

Find out more