A HUGE investment into a rare form of bone cancer will help scientists learn more about the disease.
The Tom Prince Cancer Trust has given £1m to the University College London (UCL) for research into osteosarcoma.
The Prince family, from Fratton in Portsmouth, set up the trust in memory of 15-year-old Tom who died from the cancer in 2004.
Thanks to fundraisers supported by organisations in the city, the trust reached its £1m in 2016. The cash will start the Tom Prince Osteosarcoma Research Project based at UCL.
The project is being led by Professor Adrienne Flanagan, a lead in the field of osteosarcoma. She said the money will be used for research into the disease and ways of treating it into the future.
‘Osteosarcoma is a rare disease,’ she said.
‘Compared with breast cancer where we see 65,000 new cases a year, we only see around 120 osteosarcoma cases a year.
‘To be able to take research forward on rare diseases is very challenging.
‘With the help of the £1m we have founded a consortium of some of the best scientists in the UK studying the genome of osteosarcoma.’
DNA contained in cells makes up a genome and different letters make up a DNA sequence. Genomics is the study of these sequences and by studying the cancer genome, scientists can discover what letter changes are causing a cell to become a cancer.
Professor Flanagan added: ‘We will be studying to understand at a molecular level how these diseases form.
‘We will collect blood samples from patients with osteosarcoma to develop new ways to monitor them and what treatments they might need.
‘By doing all of this detailed analysis we would hope to be able to understand the disease, come up with new treatments and new ways of diagnosing it.
‘Once we start, we will have data for the next five to 10 years available for researchers around the world to understand and develop new treatments.
‘Without this funding all these experiments would never take place.
‘It is a big awareness for the disease and it is with this money we will be educating some of the best brains in cancer to study osteosarcoma.’
When they started the Tom Prince Cancer Trust, the Prince family knew they wanted their £1m to go towards osteosarcoma research.
Dr Flanagan said: ‘It is amazing what they have done.
‘Raising that £1m and persevering for 10 years is incredible, they deserve a huge credit for doing that.’