Back in 2016, we awarded a research grant to Dr Helen Knowles to investigate the potential of targeting a protein called ANGPTL4 to reduce the metastatic spread of osteosarcoma, with the long-term objective of improving the chance of survival for patients.

The results indicated that ANGPTL4 is involved in many aspects of the metastatic spread of osteosarcoma, including rapid tumour growth, bone digestion and migration. This exciting finding makes ANGPTL4 a target for a new therapy that could potentially block or slow down osteosarcoma progression and prevent metastasis.

Dr Knowles’ exciting results then went on to initiate an international collaboration with Professor Nguan Soon Tan from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Professor Dominique Heymann from University of Sheffield and University of Nantes, France and Professor Adrienne Flanagan from University College London.

Combining their efforts, their research then involved studying how treatment with an ANGPTL4 blocking protein could affect osteosarcoma disease progression in a laboratory model of disease. The results showed a dramatic 90% reduction in lung metastasis formation, as well as a reduction in the growth of bone outside the skeleton – a characteristic of osteosarcoma that causes huge pain and disability.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 related issues stopped the work. This new Idea Grant will now allow Dr Knowles to complete this exciting research and answer two key questions:

  • Does this treatment also reduce growth of the primary tumour within the bone?
  • Does the amount of ANGPTL4 present in osteosarcoma tissue affect how the tumour behaves?

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

    When the Covid-19 pandemic started, it was devastating to see vital research come to a halt. Because of the continued support of the bone cancer community to raise funds, we've now awarded new funding for the continuation of this crucial research, which we hope one day will lead to kinder and more effective treatment options for patients with osteosarcoma.

    Find out more about the research project below:

    Find out more