A prognostic blood test measuring circulating tumour microRNAs (ctmiRNAs) and established clinical risk factors can be used to identify, as soon as possible, those patients with Ewing sarcoma that have the greatest likelihood of relapse.
At the time of diagnosis approximately 25% of Ewing sarcoma patients present with metastatic disease. Their outcomes unfortunately, remain very poor. Patients diagnosed with localised disease have better outcomes; however, 1 in 4 of these patients are likely to develop widespread disease and experience the poor outcomes typically associated with metastatic patients. Currently we have no tools to identify these patients, and many are potentially undertreated.
Biomarkers that can be detected in blood are particularly attractive for this purpose, as collection of blood samples is minimally invasive and cost effective.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs (do not participate in carrying out the instructions from DNA for producing proteins) that play important roles in regulating gene expression. They can be secreted into the circulation by tumour cells and therefore, can be detected in blood samples.
What are the aims of this research project?
In a pilot project, Professor Burchill has developed a simple blood test measuring a panel of circulating tumour microRNAs (ctmiRNAs) which at diagnosis can predict patient outcome. This research project aims to extend and consolidate these findings.
The research aims to:
• Measure selected circulating tumour miRNAs in plasma collected before and during induction chemotherapy from patients treated in the EE2012 trial.
• Evaluate the combined prognostic value of these ctmiRNAs in plasma with other tumour biomarkers and clinical risk factors, to develop a model predicting event-free survival which, if successful, could effectively identify patients for the most appropriate treatment.
• Investigate the potential of ctmiRNAs to monitor and predict the response of patients to current chemotherapy.
How could this project improve treatment options for Ewing sarcoma patients?
This research can potentially result in the development a robust model to identify, as soon as possible, those patients with greatest likelihood of early progression, so they can be offered alternative more effective treatments to improve outcomes.