Ewing sarcoma is the second most common form of bone cancer in children and young adults and the associated survival rate of this cancer still requires vast improvement.
There is a great need to develop newer, more effective, therapies and increase the number of patients being cured. Dr. Vormoor and her team aim to tackle this by increasing the damage inflicted on tumour cells during treatment procedures through the inhibition of the cells ability to repair DNA damage.
The repair of DNA damage is aided by a protein known as DNA-PK. Cancer cells can exploit this protein and use it to repair the damage that chemotherapy and radiotherapy cause to the DNA within the cancer cell; meaning that these treatments are sometimes unable to kill the cancer cells efficiently. This project investigated the use of a newly developed drug, which inhibits the DNA-PK protein in Ewing sarcoma cell lines, in the hope that this will increase the susceptibility of cancer cells to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
What were the results of this research project?
This exciting research took the first step in developing a DNA-PK inhibitor to go into clinical trials and potentially provide Ewing sarcoma patients with a superior and less toxic treatment; with lower doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy achieving the same effects, or better, than current treatment procedures when DNA repair is inhibited.
This work ran alongside the work of Professor Curtin, who investigates PARP inhibitors; another molecule with a large role in DNA repair. These two projects produced a publication in 2014 reviewing the benefit of inhibiting DNA repair molecules in treating Ewing sarcoma in combination with other treatments, you can read this here.