Developing treatments to improve the outlook for people diagnosed with malignant osteosarcoma is a research focus for Western Australia’s Perron Institute, with some promising results. 

This rare type of bone cancer begins typically in the long bones of the legs and arms and can spread to other areas. It occurs disproportionately in teenagers and young adults.  

A team led by Professor Sulev Koks, Head of Genetic Epidemiology Research at the Perron Institute and Murdoch University is identifying potential drug candidates with the aim of developing molecular therapeutics to target this painful and frequently life-threatening disease.  

“Most cases are sporadic but some people with osteosarcoma are at higher risk because of their genetic make-up,” Professor Koks said.  

“Our research providing genetic insights into this genomically complex disease has led to identification of a potential gene transfer therapy to slow down or even stop the growth of osteosarcoma. 

“Using cell lines, we have demonstrated the molecular activity of this candidate therapeutic and have submitted a disclosure of invention to the Research and Development office at Murdoch University.”  

Sock it to Sarcoma!, a WA based charity, is supporting the team’s work.  

Sock it to Sarcoma! is the vision of Abbie Basson, a Perth woman who, aged 17, had the world at her feet before being struck down by a sarcoma which eventually took her life. 

“With support from Sock it to Sarcoma!, we continue to identify molecular therapeutics to modulate the target genes to treat this bone malignancy,” Professor Koks said.  

“Our research is helping to understand how this cancer occurs, to develop diagnostic and prognostic markers and to identify targets for novel precision therapies. Factors influencing survival is one aspect, aiming to specifically target osteosarcoma mortality. 

The Sock it to Sarcoma! support is enabling our researchers at the Perron Institute, Murdoch University-based Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics and the University of Western Australia to take this important work forward.”