Osteosarcoma is the most common form of primary bone tumour occurring in children and young people and treatment usually includes a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Unfortunately, patients with aggressive osteosarcomas, that are likely to spread elsewhere in the body, don't respond as well to treatment and have a worse survival outlook.

Aggressive osteosarcomas have characteristics that cause them to rapidly expand and spread in the body, which is known as metastasis. If drugs can be found that stop one, or preferably all, of these characteristics from taking place it would prevent metastasis and dramatically improve the survival of patients with aggressive disease.

The research team at Oxford have been studying a protein called ANGPTL4, which is produced by osteosarcoma tumour cells and is known to increase the amount of bone destruction and bone loss occurring during tumour progression. This project will determine if ANGPTL4 is involved in any other characteristics of aggressive osteosarcomas; such as its growth, spread and survival.

To do this, osteosarcoma cells will be grown in the laboratory and manipulated to either produce more or less ANGPTL4 than usual. The characteristics of the 3 different osteosarcoma cell types (containing high, normal or low amounts of ANGPTL4) will then be compared to determine if ANGPTL4 is triggering the aggressive behaviour seen in osteosarcomas. If ANGPTL4 is found to be progressive of tumour formation it may be a possible drug target for therapy and reveal a new strategy in preventing the spread of osteosarcoma and improving the outcomes for patients with advanced and aggressive cancers.

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