During this year’s #BoneCancerAwarenessWeek (10 – 16 October) we held our third annual Ewing sarcoma research symposium at the Marriott Hotel in Leeds, United Kingdom.
This international meeting, which was held in collaboration with Children with Cancer UK, brought 100 delegates together to share progress and prioritise future research that could lead to improvements in patient outcomes.
The conference was co-hosted by the Bone Cancer Research Trust, Professor Sue Burchill from the University of Leeds, UK and Professor Thomas Grünewald from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany.
The day began with a moving talk from Liv Schurer of Liberty's Legacy, a Special Fund of the Bone Cancer Research Trust. Liv's sister, Liberty, was just 14-years-old when she passed away in October 2017 after being diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma on her 13th birthday. Liv's powerful speech reminded us of the importance of ensuring that new treatments progress from the laboratory to the clinic.
The day was then broken down into three sessions, covering several areas of pioneering research focused on understanding Ewing sarcoma biology and translating this to the clinic for patient benefit. Kicking off the first session was Professor Richard Gorlick from the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, USA.
Professor Gorlick delivered an excellent keynote presentation highlighting the need to consider the diversity between tumours and the importance of tailoring treatments to each patient. He also provided insight into collaborative initiatives and early clinical trials that are evaluating new single and combination therapies in the USA.
Starting the second session on immunology was Professor Claudia Rössig from University Children's Hospital in Münster, Germany.
Professor Rössig is an expert in harnessing the power of our own immune system to combat cancer, however, this is particularly challenging with Ewing sarcomas. Professor Rössig's keynote presentation highlighted approaches to modifying patients' own T cells so they can recognise and attack Ewing sarcoma cells, with the goal of eradicating the disease. She emphasised the need for European collaborations to manufacture cellular treatments that can be used in early clinical trials.
The final session on targeted therapeutics began with a thought-provoking talk by keynote speaker Dr Brian Crompton of Harvard Medical School & the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer & Blood Disorders Center in Massachusetts, USA.
In collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, USA, Professor Crompton's research facility performed a large screen of kinase inhibitor combinations to identify combinations that were more effective at killing Ewing sarcoma cells together rather than alone. Ongoing work has demonstrated significant activity of at least two combinations in both Ewing sarcoma cell lines and preclinical models of Ewing sarcoma. Combinations of new drugs that kill Ewing sarcoma warrant further investigation and evaluation in the clinic.
In addition to the keynote presentations, there were 10 oral presentations and 15 poster presentations from students, early career and established researchers. After the presentations delegates had the opportunity to ask questions, discuss challenges, share ideas and consider opportunities for future collaboration.
Zoe Davison, Head of Research, Support & Information at the Bone Cancer Research Trust, said:
We were delighted to bring the Ewing sarcoma research community together in-person to promote international collaboration that will help drive change faster. The meeting highlighted several key priorities that need addressing so that the laboratory findings can better represent what will be found in the clinic, and will therefore progress to patients more quickly. A special thank you to the Schurer family for sharing Liberty's story and to Children with Cancer UK for their generous donations towards accelerating progress for Ewing sarcoma patients.
The Bone Cancer Research Trust were delighted to award 10 Skills Development Grants to young researchers, ensuring they could attend this meeting and present their findings. Nurturing the next generation of researchers in Ewing sarcoma research is key to improving outcomes for patients.
During the symposium we were also delighted to present awards for best oral presentation and best poster. Dr Liz Roundhill from the University of Leeds, UK and Dr Tilman Hölting from Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, Germany were our oral presentation winners, while Dr Marcus Brookes from Newcastle University, UK and Dr Nicole Hughes from the University of Leeds, UK received the best poster prize. Congratulations to all of our award winners!
To stimulate further interest in Ewing sarcoma research and encourage international collaboration to drive change faster, the symposium concluded with the opening of a £1million funding call. By joining forces with Children with Cancer UK we are hoping to accelerate change that will lead to the development of new, kinder treatments for Ewing sarcoma patients.
Click below for further details on the research programme: