The Osteosarcoma Metastasis Network (OMeNet) came together following the Children with Cancer UK and BCRT sponsored 1st International Osteosarcoma Symposium in London, which highlighted the need for increased collaboration across groups with track records in osteosarcoma research.

The Bone Cancer Research Trust has funded ICONIC, a UK wide collaborative project dealing mainly with clinical aspects of osteosarcoma. In addition the Sarcoma GeCIP has been set up to explore molecular data from sarcoma (including osteosarcoma) patients as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project, to identify and better define the different tumours based on the genetics, appearance and response to treatment. However, no such collaboration exists for preclinical research – until now.

In order for any of the outcomes from the above pioneering projects to be translated for patient benefit and treatments, further pre-clinical research will inevitably be needed. In recognition of this, OMeNet has identified key research strategies to explore and interrogate particular aspects of the metastatic process in osteosarcoma. OMeNet will pave the way for faster and more accurate translation of novel findings from ICONIC and the Sarcoma GeCIP, as well as setting the standard for future pre-clinical research into osteosarcoma and other primary bone cancer metastasis.

Founding members of OMeNet:

Prof Alison Gartland

Prof Alison Gartland obtained her PhD at The University of Liverpool, and then completed Post-Doctoral Researcher positions at IGMM, CNRS France and University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA. She is a Professor of Bone and Cancer Cell Biology at The University of Sheffield with expertise in purinergic signalling, bone and cancer cell biology, in vitro and in-vivo murine models of Musculoskeletal disorders. Her principal research area focus is on developing fundamental understanding of the basic cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms responsible for musculoskeletal disease and both primary and secondary bone cancer. Prof Gartland has over 50 publications in leading journals in the field of bone and cancer and has also authored several book chapters on human bone cell culture techniques and osteosarcoma. Current projects include looking at the mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis to bone, osteosarcoma chemoresistance and metastasis, and screening for new drug treatments. Prof Gartland is also passionate about engaging Medical Student in research and raising awareness of rare diseases especially primary bone cancer conditions early on in their curriculum.

Professor Gartland has previously been awarded funding by the Bone Cancer Research Trust. Her project can be found here

University profile

Prof Agi Grigoriadis

Professor Grigoriadis obtained his PhD at the University of Toronto, identifying novel multipotent skeletogenic mesenchymal stem cell populations, and received a MRC Canada Fellowship for postdoctoral work at the IMP in Vienna where he established transgenic models of bone cancer and metabolic bone disease

He is a Professor of Bone and Cartilage Cell Biology at King’s College London and is interested in how bone and cartilage tissues are formed during embryonic development and in the post-natal remodelling skeleton, and how deregulated molecular mechanisms drive metabolic bone disease, in particular, skeletal cancers.

He has a particular interest in identifying signalling pathways and novel therapeutic targets involved in osteosarcoma growth and metastasis using in vivo models.

Professor Grigoriadis has previously received funding from the Bone Cancer Research Trust for several research projects, which can be found here

Professor Grigoriadis presented his work at the 1st International Osteosarcoma Research Symposium. A video of his presentation can be viewed here.

University profile

Mr Kenny Rankin

Mr Kenny Rankin is a Clinical Fellow and Honorary Consultant in Orthopaedic Oncology with special interests in the basic science of musculoskeletal oncology, in particular osteosarcoma. He is an orthopaedic surgeon, treating patients within the North of England Bone and Soft Tissue Tumour Service hosted at the Newcastle upon Tyne University Hospitals NHS. Foundations Trust.

His research focuses on the evaluation of cell surface proteins and enzymes relevant to sarcoma and exploration of the extra cellular matrix in solid cancers. He has a particular interest in developing patient derived xenograft models of osteosarcoma to better understand osteosarcoma progression and metastasis, with the ultimate aim of developing new treatments.

Mr Rankin has previously been awarded funding by BCRT. His projects can be found here

Mr Rankin presented his work at the 1st International Osteosarcoma Research Symposium. A video of his presentation can be viewed here.

University profile

Dr Katie Finegan

Dr Finegan’s research group investigates the mechanisms by which mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) regulate cancer biology and therapeutic response. Using a combination of established pharmacological inhibitors, novel pre-clinical mouse models, human samples and in vivo techniques, her group’s central aim is to translate findings at the molecular level into valid therapeutic avenues and/or biomarkers of cancer progression and therapy response. I have two ongoing projects working on osteosarcoma. These projects use orthotopic pre-clinical models and novel in vivo molecular imaging techniques to understand how a particular MAPK (called ERK5) controls the metastatic spread of osteosarcoma and its response to chemotherapy

Dr Finegan presented her work at the 1st International Osteosarcoma Research Symposium. The video of her presentation can be found here.

University profile

Dr Darrell Green

Dr Darrell Green is a Lecturer in Medicine and Group Leader at Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia. He heads the RNA Biology / Bone Cancer Laboratory situated at the birthplace of “RNA silencing” on the Norwich Research Park and has access to state-of-the-art sequencing platforms and a clinical trials unit. His research combines genetics, cell and molecular biology with next generation sequencing and bioinformatics to study non-coding RNA in bone cancer, circulating tumour cells plus other biological processes. Darrell has a strong interest in understanding the cellular and molecular biology of metastasis and has developed several technologies to isolate and profile metastatic cells in patient blood.

University profile

Dr Helen Roberts

Dr Helen Roberts (nee Owen) gained a PhD from the University of Glasgow whilst based at the Roslin Institute, where she investigated the molecular events surrounding steroid-induced skeletal growth retardation. Following this, Dr Roberts moved to the University of Sheffield where she investigated epigenetic biomarkers which were able to predict cancer progression. She has since coordinated research projects both at KU Leuven in Belgium, where she researched the role of epigenetics and autophagy in critical illness-induced bone loss, and at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry where she used genome-wide molecular profiling to identify epigenetic biomarkers associated with inflammation and immune suppression in critically ill patients. Dr Roberts is currently a Senior Lecturer in Life Sciences at Middlesex University, and coordinates a research track investigating the epigenetic regulation of aberrant cellular behaviour and subsequent skeletal tissue morbidity. She has a particular interest in the role of epigenetics and autophagy in the regulation of osteosarcoma metastasis and chemoresistance.

Dr Roberts has previously been awarded research funding from the Bone Cancer Research Trust, which can be found here

Dr Roberts presented her work at the 1st International Osteosarcoma Research Symposium. A video of her presentation can be viewed here

University profile