​It is becoming increasingly common to develop therapies that target specific features of individual tumour types; which are known as ‘targeted therapies’. Professor Burchill and her group hope to identify such targets for Ewing sarcoma tumours and use these to develop new treatments. The research group hope that these targets can also act as markers which determine how aggressive the tumour is and what kind of treatment each individual Ewing sarcoma patient would benefit from most.

Funding providing by the Bone Cancer Research Trust allowed Professor Burchill to work with one compound in particular, which is known as Fenretinide. The research team had found Fenretinide to be particularly effective against the Ewing Sarcoma Family of Tumours (ESFT) and kill the cancer cells with no toxicity to patients. This is a very exciting discovery but the research team wish to learn more about Fenretinide and investigate exactly how it halts tumour growth. It is hoped that this will allow the design of better treatments and combination therapies involving this compound.

This research project looked into Fenretinide in combination with an agent known as a ‘TRAIL Receptor’. Both compounds induce the death of tumour cells and so the combination of the two hopes to provide greater cell kill than either agent used alone.

Why are studies like this important?

Studies such as this one aim to identify novel combinations and strategies to enhance the death response and may facilitate rapid progression of novel treatment combinations into clinical trials. Professor Burchills work found the combination of Fenretinide and TRAIL Receptor was more effective at killing cancer cells than either of these agents used alone, though further evaluation and studeis are needed to progress this research further.

This project was funded in 2008

Learn more on our other research projects led by Professor Sue Burchill here:



Ongoing project

Sponsor Our Research Into Ewing Sarcoma