Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) are rare, aggressive cancers that arise from connective tissues. They are unique because most metastases occur in the lung. However, there is no effective treatment. Even when the primary tumour is successfully treated, nearly half of patients develop metastases that are incurable.
As Canada Research Chair in Translational Sarcoma Research, Dr. Kim Tsoi is examining which immune cells are present in lung metastases and contribute to disease. She and her research team are using nanotechnology, in particular liposomes, to develop and test a therapy to target these cells. They are also studying myxofibrosarcoma and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma, two kinds of STS that have higher than normal rates of local recurrence. Because there is no way to predict which abnormal areas contain tumour cells, it is difficult for surgeons to know how much tissue to take. To address this problem, Tsoi and her team are investigating whether genetic mutations can be used to identify areas that contain tumour cells.