July 2021, saw the allocation of funding through the efforts of media heavyweight, Michael “Wippa” Wipfli in Celebrity Apprentice Australia, to the phosphoproteomic sarcoma specific trial, under the auspices of PRISM 2, Zero Children’s Cancer Programme. “Wippa’s” significant personal sacrifice throughout filming, and that of his young family, was on behalf of CRBF and sarcoma patients nationally.
The Wipfli Family Sarcoma Research Fund will be directed to the programme which will aim to conduct a high level tumour analysis on all sarcoma tissue samples with a view to discovering and matching personalised therapeutics not currently used for the treatment of sarcoma. Dr Emmy Fleuren will oversee this cutting edge research at the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia, and enrolments will commence immediately.
To read more about this innovative research, please press the link below:
Eminent specialist surgical oncologist Associate Professor David Gyorki, together with Associate Professor Anne Hamilton, and colleagues from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital led by Associate Professor Peter Grimison, Princess Alexandra Hospital led by Professor Andrew Barbour collaborating with the national scientific body for sarcoma, ANZSA, have received a sizeable grant from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) under the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need (RCRDUN) scheme.
The grant is to run the international trial in Australia – “A randomised phase III study of neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery versus surgery alone for patients with High Risk RetroPeritoneal Sarcoma (STRASS 2)”.
“Eligible Australian patients with retroperitoneal sarcoma at high risk of recurrence will be able to participate in this randomised controlled trial designed to answer the question of whether preoperative chemotherapy improves outcome for patients. The current standard of care for these patients is surgery alone. However, the risk of recurrence for many of them is 50% or higher.
The purpose of the STRASS 2 trial is to determine whether the administration of chemotherapy before surgery represents a better treatment compared to surgery alone and if the administration of chemotherapy before surgery is safe. It is also to assess whether specific chemotherapy can be used to reduce recurrence risk in a patient with either high-grade leiomyosarcoma or high-grade dedifferentiated liposarcoma.
It is the first time a trial has studied the role of preoperative chemotherapy specifically in patients with retroperitoneal sarcoma, an anatomical location with unique challenges and disease patterns.” (ANZSA, July 2021)
The trial, led by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) has participation from Europe, Canada, USA and now Australia.
“With aims to recruit 40 Australian patients, the STRASS 2 trial will open at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (VIC) as the lead site, with A/Prof Hamilton as the lead oncologist on the trial. The trial will also open at Royal Prince Alfred/Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (NSW) and at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (QLD).
About clinical trial
Please speak to your treating team about this clinical trial to see if you are eligible for it.
Remember that participation in a clinical trial is voluntary and that you should never feel forced to participate in it.
Before you agree to participate in a clinical trial, it is important to be as informed as possible. It can be helpful to write down questions you have before seeing your doctor.” (ANZSA, July 2021)
Please refer to the ANZSA website for further information by pressing the link below
To mark the commencement of Global Sarcoma Awareness Month, it is our great pleasure to announce the “Wipfli Family Sarcoma Research Grant”, a $186,799 grant, made possible by the family’s incredible efforts throughout Celebrity Apprentice Australia. But it doesn’t end there – joining with us is The Kids Cancer Project who have stepped in and doubled the grant.
All in all, $373,597 will be heading towards sarcoma specific research under the auspices of the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia and the Zero Childhood Cancer Phosphoproteomic Study!
The study will be led by Dr Emmy Fleuren, the sarcoma research lead in the Translational Tumour Biology Group at the CCIA. Emmy is leading the way in the paediatric and adolescent space in Australia, and the future of sarcoma is all the better from having her expertise.
We need not remind you of the efforts of Wippa and Lisa to facilitate the money raised throughout Celebrity Apprentice. They are an incredibly special family, and their efforts to grow Cooper’s legacy is inspirational.
The Kids Cancer Project, with a special mention to CEO Owen Finegan, have supported high level paediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer research in Australia for almost three decades. Their commitment to funding research projects for all childhood cancers is as humbling as it is life-changing for those young patients who stand to benefit.
We extend our deepest gratitude to each of these outstanding contributors to sarcoma research in Australia.
Head to the Children’s Cancer Institute social media accounts to read more about the research!
World-first clinical trial targets immune molecule IL23 as potential treatment for sarcoma
Sydney researchers are testing whether an existing medication could be repurposed to treat sarcoma.
Garvan team leading IL23 sub-study (clockwise from top left) Dr Maya Kansara, Prof David Thomas, Dr Mandy Ballinger, Dr Frank Lin, Keith Thornton, Dr Subo Thavaneswaran, Dr John Grady
Media Release: 26 March 2021
Recruitment is now open for a national clinical trial that will test whether an existing therapy for psoriasis can help treat patients with sarcomas, which are rare cancers arising in the connective tissues (bone, muscle, tendons, nerves, fat, cartilage and blood vessels) and may occur anywhere in the body. In particular, the trial focuses on osteosarcoma, a rare but aggressive form of bone cancer that most commonly affects teenagers and young adults.
The phase II clinical trial, which is a collaboration between the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Omico (the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Centre) and the University of Sydney’s NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, will investigate if treatment with a drug targeting the immune molecule IL23 could improve outcomes for sarcoma patients.
The new trial is the first globally to test a new anticancer pathway for sarcoma. It is supported by the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, the Australian Government, the NSW Office of Health and Medical Research, SunPharma, The Kids’ Cancer Project, the Matthew Fisher Sarcoma Research Fund and the Daniel Allchin Race for a Cure, and brings new hope to those affected by sarcoma.
“This immunotherapy trial is part of our national Molecular Screening and Therapeutics (MoST) trials program, and will be open in at least eight centres nationally,” said study chief investigator Professor David Thomas, Head of the Genomic Cancer Medicine Laboratory at Garvan, Director of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre and CEO of Omico.
“Sarcomas are aggressive cancers with few treatment options. For osteosarcoma in particular, there have been few advances in treatments for this form of cancer in four decades. We hope that this clinical trial, which will investigate if treating patients with a sarcoma with a medication currently in use for another condition will have anti-cancer effects.”
Immunotherapy for osteosarcoma
Sarcomas are rare cancers of connective tissues such as fat, muscle and bone. They particularly affect the young, with osteosarcoma, or bone sarcoma, among the ten most common cancers affecting Australians between ages 15 to 29.
The five-year survival rate for sarcomas remains as low as 65%, while options for patients with incurable disease are very limited.
The new clinical trial follows an earlier study that demonstrated the immune molecule IL23 is central to the development and progression of soft-tissue and bone sarcoma in animal models. By targeting IL23, the study authors were able to successfully shrink osteosarcoma tumours in mice.
“Our previous research showed us that when we blocked IL23 in mice with osteosarcoma, their tumour growth slowed,” said Dr Maya Kansara who leads the Immunobiology of Cancer Group at the Garvan Institute.
“We hope that our promising pre-clinical results will translate to improved clinical outcomes in osteosarcoma patients.”
The trial, opened to enrolment this month, will examine how patients with advanced osteosarcoma and soft tissue sarcomas respond to the anti-IL23-targeting treatment. It is a single-arm, open-label phase II trial design which means all 32 sarcoma patients planned to be recruited will receive the treatment.
“If we see promising signs from this initial study, we believe that targeting IL23 may play a role in the treatment of many cancer types,” said Professor Thomas.
Robert Beech-Jones, Chairman of the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, said “CRBF is delighted to have the opportunity to support this highly significant research. We thank Professor David Thomas and Dr Maya Kansara and the highly accomplished team behind this research, for the hope this world first study provides to sarcoma patients. This exemplifies the high level research Cooper envisaged this Foundation would support.”
For further information about the clinical trial [ACTRN12620000984998] please see the eligibility criteria. To register interest for the trial please contact the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney on firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9562 5000.
Declaration: This clinical trial is being supported by the Australian Government, the NSW Office of Health and Medical Research and SunPharma. There are no conflicts of interest. The clinical trial is being sponsored by the University of Sydney and is being conducted under the Australian CTN scheme. The research has ethics approval from St Vincent’s Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee.
The role of the Sarcoma Clinical Nurse Consultant is pivotal to not only the quality of patient care, but assists greatly in supporting and navigating the patient through one of the most savage cancer treatment regimes.
“Patients diagnosed with sarcoma experience complex treatment pathways and unmet needs. The Sarcoma Clinical Nurse Consultant position was recently established in Western Australia to improve the quality of patient care. As this role is new in Western Australia and nationally, research is required to understand the duties, benefits, and gaps of the position.” (Perspectives of the sarcoma clinical nurse consultant role: A qualitative study conducted by a stellar team in WA, Rhys Weaver, Moira O’Connor, Irene Ngune, Richard Carey-Smith, Jane Phillips and Georgia Halkett) thoroughly explores the requirement for this critical role within the sarcoma MDT.
Congratulations to the team , and to our WA counterparts, Sock it to Sarcoma! – for facilitating this much needed research.
Monday 9 November, marked the launch of the National Oncology Alliance (NOA) Vision 20-30, with a three hour conference hosting major stakeholders, including hosting leading Australian oncologists and researchers, together with presentations from cancer patients and families.
It was three hours that provided hope for the future for those living with a cancer diagnosis, with a particular emphasis on those living with a rare cancer diagnosis. Vision 20-30 will place the magnifying glass on the current systems, and how they fit within the global context, with particular alignment to cell therapies, genomics and personalised therapeutics.
With support from the Minderoo Foundation, the Federal Government, and Rare Cancers Australia, Vision 20-30 will form the basis for advancing cancer in Australia.
A project harnessing modified immune cells to target cancers will see Sydney leading innovative cancer therapies.
The University of Sydney and Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) have announced the execution of an agreement with biopharmaceutical company, Biosceptre (BCIQ), to establish a new research program on CAR-T cell immunotherapy, at Westmead, Western Sydney.
To read more about this remarkable research, and Dr Patrick Schlegel, the German paediatric oncologist, and leader in CAR-T technology, who will be leading the Sydney research team, press the link below
A team of scientists led by Western Australian based scientist Dr. Emel Rothzerg – School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of The University of Western Australia, in Perth (Australia) and the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science in Nedlands (Australia), reports an association between osteosarcoma and abnormal alternative splicing of the leptin receptor overlapping transcript (LEPROT).