Press Release: Development of new approaches in bone cancer therapy

St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute: Development of new approaches in bone cancer therapy


Scientists at St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute are studying the basics of bone cancer. Based on their novel insights it will be possible to better predict the efficacy of novel chemotherapeutic drugs.
Ewing sarcoma represents the second most frequent bone cancer in children and young adults. While the mutation that causes the disease and leads to widespread aberrant gene regulation has been known for some time, the mechanism behind this dysregulation has, so far, been largely unclear. Now, in a study published online on February 19. in the international top journal Cell Reports, scientists from St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute, in collaboration with the Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, report that the product of a tumorigenic mutation “epigenetically” changes the packaging of gene regulatory regions in the tumor DNA. Chemical modification (acetylation) of specific DNA-associated proteins (histones) leads to hyper-activation of genes involved in cell proliferation and to reprogramming of cellular differentiation genes. Investigators studied genome-wide eight different histone modifications and defined four distinct patterns, which allow predicting the response to different chemotherapeutic drugs that change acetylation. The results of this study are based on the use of “next generation sequencing” technology for epigenetic profiling.
“In the future, these new insights will help us choose novel therapeutic drugs for the treatment of this very aggressive cancer”, adds Prof. Heinrich Kovar, scientific director. „And in the long term we hope to be able to apply pharmacological treatments more precisely.”
Achievements like this are made possible by the financial support from community members and economy partners. This study was partly enabled by a charitable grant of Kapsch Group.
Dr. Kari Kapsch, Chief Operating Officer of Kapsch: “I’m pleased that we could contribute to the generation of these new scientific insights. For our company innovation and research are also essential – and St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute has been holding a leading role in their field of expertise for years.”

Literature: Tomazou EM, Nathan C. Sheffield, Christian Schmidl, Michael Schuster, Andreas Schönegger, Paul Datlinger, Stefan Kubicek, Christoph Bock, Heinrich Kovar. Epigenome mapping reveals distinct modes of gene regulation and widespread enhancer reprogramming by the oncogenic fusion protein EWS-FLI1. Cell Reports, 10:1-14. February 24, 2015

Contact Information:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heinrich Kovar, scientific director St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute
Zimmermannplatz 10, 1090 Wien, Austria
T +43(1)40470-4090