Diagnosing primary Bone Cancer

Diagnosing primary bone cancer
Winter 2014

£70,859 to the School of Biological Sciences, UEA, for a 3 year project investigating regulatory molecules in bone cancer.

The skeleton does not only provide structural support and protection for our internal organs; it is also involved in the production of blood cells and hormones, the storage of minerals, and the regulation of glucose metabolism and fertility. While not as common as other cancers, primary bone cancer is aggressive, and some forms have very poor outcomes. Historically research has been lacking in this area, and survival rates have not improved in the last 25 years. 

One form of bone cancer, chondrosarcoma, is resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, so surgery is often the only option. This project will investigate a family of small molecules called microRNAs in chondrosarcoma. These molecules are found in all cells and control the level at which our genes are switched on or off. The research group has previously observed microRNAs potentially playing a role in cancerous changes to bone cells and this project will build on that work. One significant aim is to develop a “fingerstick” blood test to diagnose those at risk. The test would be cheap and non-invasive and could be used for other cancers.

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