Osteosarcoma is the most common form of primary bone cancer occurring in children and young adults. Despite advances being made in research, osteosarcoma has not seen any improvement in survival rates for almost three decades. This is due to the cancers ability to spread elsewhere in the body, particularly to the lungs, and hold resistance to current treatment methods.
When osteosarcoma develops it does so in a favourable microenvironment comprised of many different cell types; which includes bone cells, blood vessels and cells of the immune system. The tumour cells interact with the cells of the microenvironment to facilitate their growth, progression and ability to disseminate from the tumour and spread elsewhere in the body.
The tumour microenvironment is an exciting area of research in various cancer types and Professor Dominique Heymann, one of our top researchers at The University of Sheffield, is working to characterise the tumour microenvironment of osteosarcoma in closer detail.
Investigating the tumour microenvironment hopes to identify specific molecules, known as biomarkers, which are facilitating features of an osteosarcoma; such as its likelihood to spread, ability to return at a later date and tendency to show resistance to treatment. As well as the microenvironment, Professor Heymann and his team will analyse tumour cells that are circulating in the bloodstream in order to find methods of identifying patients with a higher risk of the tumour spreading.
With a particular focus on overcoming the spread of osteosarcoma and its resistance to treatment, this project hopes to inform future clinical trials by identifying new treatment targets while improving current follow-up procedures to lower the risk of osteosarcoma recurrence.