Current rhabdomyosarcoma projects

Soft tissue sarcomas account for seven per cent of childhood cancers, with just over 100 children diagnosed every year in the UK. Rhabdomyosarcoma accounts for just over half of these cases.

Rhabdomyosarcoma can occur in almost any part of the body but is most common in the head and neck.

The overall survival rate for childhood rhabdomyosarcoma is just over 70 per cent. Age is an important prognostic factor and children diagnosed at the age of 10 to14 years have a much worse outlook than younger age groups, with a survival rate of only around 50 per cent.

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More research is urgently needed to improve our understanding of rhabdomyosarcoma and improve the outlook for young patients. Our current projects are listed below.

Investigating inherited genes that are linked to development of rhabdomyosarcoma

Isabelle Gore 11 October 2016
Dr Marc Tischkowitz, University of Cambridge

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer that is difficult to treat and remains a major cause of death from cancer in childhood, with little progress having been made in recent decades. Dr Marc Tischkowitz is investigating an inherited predisposition that underlies some cases of this cancer. The aim is to aid in the earlier diagnosis, therapy and potentially even cure for children at risk or at the initial stages of developing rhabdomyosarcoma by increasing understanding of their genetic profile.

Amount of grant: £225,510 | Date of award: July 2016 Overview Around 70 children are diagnosed with rhabdomyosa...
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Developing immunotherapy for childhood sarcomas

Isabelle Gore 14 September 2015
Professor John Anderson, UCL Institute of Child Health, London

Immunotherapy is emerging as an important new line of defence against childhood cancers that do not respond to chemotherapy. Success has already been achieved in the treatment of children with leukaemia and neuroblastoma using immunotherapy techniques. Professor Anderson and colleagues now aim to extend these techniques to the treatment of childhood sarcomas. 

Amount of grant: £181,213 | Date of award: May 2015 Overview One of the greatest challenges facing paediatric oncologists is the management of children with tumours that are resistant to chemotherapy, especially when the...
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Identifying new treatments for children with rhabdomyosarcoma

Isabelle Gore 18 September 2014
Dr Zoë Walters, The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Zoë was awarded a Paul O’Gorman Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in 2014 to take forward her research in rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer affecting around 70 children a year in the UK. Zoë aims to test the effectiveness of a new, targeted treatment that may ultimately prolong lives and reduce the side effects of treatment.

Amount of award: £398,770 | Date of award: May 2014 Background Every year in the UK around 70 children are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that resembles developing skeletal muscle. The outcome for some children with this disease is extremely poor and treatm...
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Identification of new genetic changes in rhabdomyosarcoma

Isabelle Gore 01 March 2013
Professor Jill Birch, University of Manchester

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a childhood cancer that develops in muscle, with 50 new cases every year in the UK. Older children in particular have a poor outlook and we need to improve our understanding of the disease in order to develop new approaches to treatment. Professor Birch is carrying out a detailed investigation of the genetic mutations underlying RMS development, which we hope, ultimately, will direct new, personalised treatment strategies.  

Amount of grant: £96,816  |  Date of award: March 2013
Overview Rhabdomyosarcoma is a childhood cancer that develops in muscle. There are aroun...
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Pre-clinical testing of a new treatment approach for rhabdomyosarcoma

Larry McCarthy 01 June 2012
Dr Janet Shipley, The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Around 70 children are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma every year in the UK. It is a cancer that is difficult to treat and remains a major cause of death from cancer in childhood, with little progress having been made in recent decades. The aim of this project is to take forward a new approach to the treatment of this disease.

Amount of grant: £113,684*  |  Date of award: June 2012

The team
Dr Janet Shipley & Professor Andrew Pearson, The Institute of Cancer Research; Dr Julia Chisholm & Dr Suzanne Gatz, The Royal Marsden Hospital.
Background Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most ...
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