Sarcomas: a review of research
Sarcomas: stronger together
Since sarcomas are a rare type of cancer, research on the disease is difficult. Sarcoma research units have mostly joined forces to form national and international networks. In this way, researchers can share their knowledge, analyze more tumor samples, include more patients in clinical trials and work together more effectively.
Sarcomas: how is research being used?
“Scientific research into sarcomas provides better understanding of the biological mechanisms related to the malignant transformation of the supporting cells and the development of these complex tumors,” explains Franck Tirode, a researcher from the genetics and biology of cancer unit in the Research Center at Institut Curie. “It also provides classification of sarcomas by characterizing their genetic profile. This so-called ‘basic’ research may help improve diagnosis and pave the way for new and more suitable treatments.”
“We have recently discovered that a small number of cases of Ewing sarcoma are not associated with the same genetic mechanism that the unit had identified,” continues Tirode. “Improved knowledge of this sarcoma and the change of its classification do not necessarily change its usual medical treatment, but this gives the physician information on the response to this treatment. “In particular, this paves the way for the development of new medications that can target the anomalies detected or for the use of anti-cancer molecules that have already demonstrated their action on a similar biological mechanism in other cancers.”
From basic science to treatment of sarcomas
Research also focuses on the therapeutic tools for these cancers, in particular radiotherapy. The use of hafnium nanoparticles in the tumor, combined with radiotherapy, has recently been successfully tested in patients suffering from locally advanced sarcomas in the soft tissue, and is currently the subject of an international trial. A number of combinations of chemotherapy medications with other molecules are also being studied. New medications are being tested, in particular those that pertain to “targeted therapies,” which act directly on the phenomena specific to the cellular signals associated with malignant proliferation and transformation, for example the inhibitors of the tyrosine kinase enzyme, MTor* inhibitors and MET** pathway inhibitors.