Beckerle Lab

Deciphering Sarcomagenesis

Sarcoma

Care for Patients With Sarcomas

The K. B. Jones Lab is directed by and supports Dr. Jones as he provides care to patients of all ages with bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, performing surgery to remove the cancers and reconstruct the limbs or body wall. 

Biology of Sarcoma

While sarcomas are almost never cured without surgery, even the best surgery possible can only cure a portion of patients. To help fight disease that has spread beyond the reach of the scalpel, we need improved chemotherapy options. To improve treatments, we need to better understand the biology of sarcoma.

Although rare in the population, sarcomas have been at the very center of cancer discovery. The first two major types of genetic drivers of cancer were both initially identified through investigation of sarcomas. Tumor suppressors, the genes that a developing cancer must shut down in order to continue growing out of control, were found in families that had a dangerous propensity to develop bone and soft-tissue sarcomas. Oncogenes, the genes whose activation enables a cancer cell to grow rapidly and ignore stop signals from the outside, were initially identified in a virus that caused sarcomas in chickens.

Oncogenesis, Cancer Initiation, or Transformation

Sarcomas provide ideal model cancers for the study of oncogenesis, cancer initiation, or transformation because they do not derive from a person's behaviors or exposures as far as we can tell. One does not generally develop a sarcoma due to a history of smoking, eating too little broccoli, or avoiding exercise. Sarcomas just happen, apparently at random.

We cannot usually answer the "why" questions of sarcomagenesis, but through research we can pursue the "how" questions. In the Jones lab, we aggressively pursue an understanding of how sarcomas develop, seeking in this biology new targets for more effective treatments.
Mary Beckerle

Kevin B. Jones, MD
Principal Investigator
kevin.jones@hci.utah.edu

Cancer Center Bio