Research team win £140,000 cash boost towards cancer study

The PAWS-GIST consortium at Addenbrookes will receive £140,000 from Sarcoma UK and GIST Cancer UK

The PAWS-GIST consortium at Addenbrooke's Hospital will receive £140,000 from Sarcoma UK and GIST Cancer UK for research into a ground-breaking cancer study. Lead scientist Dr Oliver Giger is pictured. - Credit: Addenbrooke's Hospital / Archant

A research team based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has won a £140,000 cash boost towards a ground-breaking cancer study. 

The paediatric, adolescent, wild-type syndromic gastrointestinal stromal tumour (PAWS-GIST) consortium will receive the funding from Sarcoma UK and GIST Cancer UK. 

The funding will help research in finding new treatments for a rare cancer that affects children and young people. 

Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (or GISTs) are most common in the stomach or small bowel, but can occur anywhere along the digestive tract. 

They can spread to the liver and peritoneum/omentum and less commonly to bones and lungs. 

About one in 15 patients with GIST have a subtype known as SDH-deficient, which can currently only be treated with surgery if surgery is possible. 

Dr Oliver Giger, lead scientist at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Dr Oliver Giger, lead scientist at Addenbrooke's Hospital. - Credit: Addenbrooke's Hospital

Lead scientist, Dr Oliver Giger and his team, plan to use cutting-edge labatory techniques to improve understanding of the genomic changes that occur in SDH-deficient GIST, and how they might be targeted with new treatments. 

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He said: “We know how focusing on specific genes can be vital to finding new drug targets and we’ve already seen this potential translated to treatments in patients with other cancers. 

“In the long term, we hope the results from this study will transform the treatment options for SDH-deficient GIST patients.” 

Dr Sorrel Bickley, Sarcoma UK director of research, policy and support.

Dr Sorrel Bickley, Sarcoma UK director of research, policy and support. - Credit: Addenbrooke's Hospital

Defects in two genes, called KIT and PDGFRA, are present in many GIST tumours and drugs which target them, such as imatinib, work well. 

Dr Giger and his team aim to achieve similar success for patients with SDH-deficient GISTs. 

Sarcoma UK director of research, policy and support, Dr Sorrel Bickley, said: “We are proud to be collaboratively funding this cutting-edge genomics research with GIST Cancer UK. 

“We hope that Dr Giger’s project will help pave the way to finding desperately needed treatments for GISTs and other sarcomas.” 

Jayne Bressington, vice chair of GIST Cancer UK and patient director at PAWS-GIST at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Jayne Bressington, vice chair of GIST Cancer UK and patient director at PAWS-GIST at Addenbrooke's Hospital. - Credit: Addenbrooke's Hospital

Vice chair of GIST Cancer UK and patient director PAWS-GIST at Addenbrooke’s, Jayne Bressington, added: “It is wonderful that by joining forces we can help Dr Giger and his team build upon the significant findings."

More information about the PAWS-GIST clinic can be found online.