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International Clinical Trials to Improve Survival from Ewing Sarcoma
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Young researchers funded by Peter Pan charity at January 2017 EEC meeting

Six young researchers from Europe, working on Ewing sarcoma, were awarded travel bursaries to attend the EEC meeting in London in January 2017. Funding was donated by the Peter Pan charity and was granted for two spoken presentations and four posters. The EEC were very impressed with the standard and glad that it had been a positive experience for the young researchers.

Gloria Pedot, University Children’s Hospital Zurich

" My name is Gloria Pedot and I am in the second year of my PhD at the University Children’s Hospital of Zurich. On January 18th and 19th 2017, I had the opportunity and pleasure to attend the Euro Ewing Consortium Meeting (held in London). It was my first experience in a conference abroad and I found it valuable to hear about novel breakthroughs in Ewing sarcoma and useful for my future work in the lab during my PhD. Since this meeting was more focused on the clinics of Ewing sarcoma, I could enhance my knowledge on clinical trials and on the novel drugs that will be tested in the future. I want to thank the Euro Ewing consortium for giving me the chance to talk about the research project I am pursuing in our laboratory. I believe it is always a tremendous gratification to present my own research work in front of other expert scientists and oncologists from all Europe, as well as a big opportunity to receive insights about novel aspects to develop in my research. Moreover, by listening to several talks as well as preparing my presentation for the meeting, I could improve my presentation and speech skills. A special thanks to the Peter Pan Onlus charity for the travel grants awarded to young researchers like me, without which it would not have been possible for me to attend this valuable conference.

Emmy Fleuren, The Institute of Cancer Research

" First of all, I would like to thank the organizers of the EURO EWING Consortium (EEC) 2017 meeting and the Peter Pan Charity for the opportunity and support to attend and present at this specialized meeting. Attendance of this meeting enabled me to get up-to-date on the latest (pre)clinical research progress in Ewing sarcomas, peak into the current clinical programs and get into contact with other Ewing sarcoma investigators, which is key when dealing with rare tumours such as Ewing sarcoma. Being present at this meeting helped me to not only strengthen existing collaborations, but has led to potential novel relationships as well. Importantly, having been selected to present my own scientific research project to clinical and preclinical experts in the field not only increased the visibility of the study, but also resulted in positive comments and constructive, valuable feedback. As I am a young biomedical researcher, one key aspect of this particular meeting to me was the clinical angle on this disease, both from the side of the clinicians treating patients, as well as the perspective from patients themselves. The discussions about the set-up of clinical Ewing sarcoma trials, and the challenges clinical investigators and patients are facing, has given me more insights and ideas into the best ways to design preclinical research studies with the highest translational potential. The presence and input from the patient advocates made me even more aware about the challenges Ewing sarcoma patients are facing and the urgency to provide more potent and less toxic treatments.

Karen Manias, The University of Birmingham

" I am a Paediatric Oncology Registrar and Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and was given the opportunity to present my research at the EEC meeting in January 2017. My work involved a systematic review of chemotherapy in metastatic, refractory and relapsed Ewing Sarcoma in patients less than 30 years of age. I have both a research and a clinical interest in Ewing Sarcoma, and found attending the EEC meeting immensely beneficial as it informed me about current research advances in this area throughout Europe. It was fascinating to hear about interim analyses of ongoing clinical trials and learn about the challenges faced in their execution. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and network with international experts in the field and become familiar with their work. I hope to use the knowledge gained to inform my future research and improve my ability to treat patients with Ewing Sarcoma, and would like to thank the Peter Pan Onlus charity for this fantastic opportunity.

Elizabeth Roundhill, University of Leeds

" Thanks to the Euro Ewing Consortium and Peter Pan Onlus charity for a travel bursary to attend the Euro Ewing Consortium Annual Meeting, 18-19th January, 2017. This conference was attended by scientists, clinicians and patient advocates from throughout Europe to discuss the challenges of new and existing clinical trial design and treatment strategies, with a strong emphasis on the development and evaluation of novel therapeutics. The meeting also provided the opportunity for members from each of the EuroEwing2012 clinical trial working packages to update the consortium on current progress within the trial. As an early career researcher investigating drug resistance and disease progression in Ewing’s Sarcoma, attending this meeting gave me the opportunity to discuss the findings of my current research with experts in the field, develop existing and new collaborations and provide me with an insight as to how clinical trials are effectively developed and monitored in rare cancers. The meeting was over 2 days consisting of invited presentations, workshops including group discussion and more specific presentations such as the “new agents session” with a view to identifying novel compounds for evaluation in future clinical trials. The presentations by the invited speakers Professors Parmar and Thomas highlighted the importance of appropriate clinical trial design and how the genetic profiling of tumours is a viable strategy for the identification of novel targets for therapy in Ewing’s sarcoma. These presentations were particularly relevant since my studies focus on both the identification and validation of novel targets for therapy in Ewing’s sarcoma. The group discussion sessions, considering how we might most effectively improve survival for patients, was particularly thought provoking, suggesting continued collaboration is the key to rapidly and reliably improving outcome for patients with Ewing’s sarcoma. In addition to my poster entitled “ABC transporter and heat shock proteins; targets to overcome multi-drug resistance in Ewing’s sarcoma”, I also presented data evaluating the use of HSP90 inhibitors as a novel therapeutic strategy in the new agents session. Presentations in this session led to an important discussion between the scientists, clinicians, patient advocates and the pharmaceutical representatives around pre-clinical models and the in vitro experiments required to rapidly progress a compound from the laboratory to evaluation in a clinical trial. This session also expanded my knowledge of both novel and existing scientific techniques and how they might be employed to determine the efficacy of a developmental compound.

Mariona Chicón Bosch, University of Leeds

" Thanks to the Peter Pan Onlus charity for a travel bursary to attend the EURO EWING Consortium meeting, January 18-19th, 2017, at Friends House, London, UK. This meeting is an occasion when members of the EURO EWING consortium (EEC) meet to discuss, amongst other topics, the ongoing EEC clinical trials, future strategies for Ewing’s sarcoma (ES) research or update the community on any new agents and how to introduce these into clinical trials. It is important to mention that the audience was composed of scientists, clinicians, patient advocates and pharma representatives from around Europe, leading to engaging debate sessions. The meeting was over 2 days consisting of both workshop sessions to discuss the way forward on ES clinical research, and work package updates on ongoing EEC studies. In addition, there were two invited speakers (Prof. Mahesh Parmar on clinical trials; and Prof. David Thomas on the International Sarcoma Kindred Study) and two young researchers giving short presentations (funded by the Peter Pan Onlus charity). I particularly enjoyed the sessions chaired by the EEC External Advisory Board on how to develop a strategy for future ES clinical research (Day 1, morning). I had the opportunity to discuss, as part of a round-table debate, the main aspects for future studies. Interestingly, this varied depending on the participants’ background. Having the opportunity to attend one of the EEC meetings as a young researcher has been highly enriching for my career in ES. Representatives of the main groups around Europe attended, providing me with a unique environment for networking with experts in the ES field and learn about other group’s research. Sharing each one’s research areas in these meetings is an exceptional opportunity to develop collaborations between centres. In addition, I had the opportunity to present a poster on my ongoing research in ES (Title: Cancer stem-like cells: The story behind the poor outcome of Ewing’s sarcoma patients), where I explained how we are isolating the ES cancer stem-like cells, which are thought to be responsible for the poor outcome in ES patients, and how we are characterising the cells in order to identify their unique profile.

Christiane Schaefer, University Children’s Hospital Münster

" It was the first time for me to attend to a Meeting of the Euro Ewing Consortium, this time held in London. I am working as a biological PhD student with the focus on investigating the development and the mechanism of action of Ewing sarcoma and to extent existing treatment strategies for Ewing sarcoma patients. Therefore it was a great experience and advantage to meet specialized researchers and to discuss my recent findings. I built up new cooperation partners who may participate in future projects concerning the execution of my functional approaches. Additionally, it was quite interesting to get a detailed inside of currently ongoing clinical trials and the different work packages. I would like to thank the Peter Pan Onlus charity for supporting my attendance at the EEC meeting. These kinds of meetings are very helpful to extent and to strengthen the bridge between clinicians and researches for promoting/increasing the survival rates for Ewing sarcoma patients.