A challenge in treating soft tissue sarcomas is that there are more than 50 subtypes, each of which is relatively uncommon. Patients' outcomes are generally substantially better when they are managed by the sort of multidisciplinary team of experts that we can provide, in a center of excellence that treats many people with sarcoma. Our team of soft tissue sarcoma experts likely has the most extensive experience with these tumors of any medical group in the world.
In addition to my clinical sarcoma practice, I conduct laboratory research to develop new methods to improve the diagnosis and treatment of sarcoma. I lead both a National Cancer Institute Specialized Program in Research Excellence (SPORE) and the Sarcoma Genome Project.
The immediate goal of our research is to increase our understanding of sarcoma biology by discovering the alterations in DNA and RNA that cause sarcomas to develop and progress. These findings allow us to improve both the accuracy of diagnosis and the accuracy of predicting treatment outcome and survival for individual patients. These better predictions, in turn, will make it possible for patients to be given the treatment (such as a specific targeted therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation) most likely to be effective for their particular tumor.
Another goal of the research is to find new targeted therapies aimed specifically at alterations in particular tumor types. Examples of targeted therapies that I have been actively involved in developing and designing include anti-angiogenesis therapy for soft tissue sarcoma, imatinib (Gleevec®) for gastrointestinal stromal sarcoma, and cell cycle kinase inhibitor therapies (CDK4, AURKA, and PLK1), demethylating agents, HDAC inhibitors, and PPAR gamma ligands for various liposarcomas.
I am optimistic that this research will ultimately improve survival and quality of life for patients with soft tissue sarcoma.