Inform, Empower, Connect

Sarcoma Patients EuroNet Association (SPAEN) hosted a fantastic meeting this week about key scientific advances in sarcoma during 2021.  The session discussed new drugs, surgery, and radiotherapy (RT) in osteosarcoma.

Medical oncologist Nathalie Gasper took the floor first. She discussed a group of drugs called multi tyrosine kinase inhibitors (mTKIs). mTKIs block multiple kinases (proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body). When tested on their own in clinical trials they showed some effect in treating osteosarcoma. They are now being looked at alongside chemotherapy with results due to be published this year. Researchers are also investigating when mTKIs should be given in the treatment journey. This ensures they will be used to their maximum effect if they are approved for use.

Next, we looked at surgical techniques in osteosarcoma. Orthopaedic surgeon Domenico Campanacci explained how surgery was a careful balance between preserving the healthy bone and removing the cancer. In the future, augmented reality may help to achieve this. Surgeons could view a 3D image of the cancer without obstruction by other structures during surgery. This could help to preserve more healthy bone.

RT oncologist Beate Timmermann discussed how surgery is not always possible, and in some cases, RT may be used in osteosarcoma. RT uses radiation to kill cancer cells. It is also given to help with bone pain. However, osteosarcoma is not very sensitive to RT. This means that high amounts of radiation are needed to kill cancer cells, which can cause long term side effects. Research is underway to make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation and may apply to some cases of osteosarcoma in the future.

Despite their different jobs, all three speakers discussed the importance of Quality of Life. It is important to find treatments that are both effective and have few side effects. We are currently funding two research projects exploring new treatments for osteosarcoma.

Thank you to SPAEN for hosting the meeting.