Alice’s Arc visits the University of Birmingham for research update

Alice’s Arc has invested £500,000 into two rhabdomyosarcoma research projects, led by Dr Susanne Gatz and being conducted by multi-disciplinary research teams at the University of Birmingham.

Alice’s Arc Trustees, Natalie Carpenter, David Wakeling and Sara Wakeling enjoyed their first visit to the University of Birmingham to discuss progress on project one which is now entering year two and to talk about a new project Alice’s Arc has agreed to fund which started on the 1st March 2022. We also delivered our well-being bags for Birmingham Children’s Hospital as well as new toys/crafts for their playrooms which were recently donated. In addition, we received an update on the FaR-RMS trial from the study co-ordinators and met Professor of Clinical Paediatric Oncology, Pamela Kearns who heads the Cancer Research trials unit.

Touring the laboratories and watching the research in motion is so motivating and inspiring. Understanding what a day in the life is like for members of the research team is critical for developing our scientific knowledge. Highlights included looking through the microscope and comparing normal muscle cells, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma cells and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cells. In addition, we were able to look through different types of microscopes at developing models which enable the behaviour of a rhabdomyosarcoma tumours to be studied in real-time.

Project one is studying fusion-negative rhabdomyosarcoma with a focus on RAS genes. 50% of fusion-negative patients have RAS pathways as part of their tumour. The project focuses on testing potential new drugs that target DNA repair on these pathways. The team have identified a drug that shows promise in the petri dish in combination with regularly used chemo drugs. However, there is a long way to go!

Details of project two will be announced shortly, so watch this space!

Thank you to the University of Birmingham for having us. It’s a pleasure to work together. Thank you to all our supporters, all the families, the Arcs which enable this crucial work to happen.

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Press coverage received in Sunday’s Observer on 15th January 2023.
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