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    New ways to fight tumours


    Scientists from the universities of Würzburg and Tübingen have formed a research team to find new tumour therapies that avoid resistance to therapy. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will contribute around three million euros worth of funding for the project in the next three years.

    Cancer cells can only grow and survive when certain processes in the cells are basically altered. For example, the energy metabolism in tumour cells changes, signal transmission is impaired and the cell's growth mechanisms get out of control. A new research team recently approved by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) aims to get a deeper insight into these changes leading to the development of enhanced tumour therapies. The goal of this strategy is to prevent resistance to therapies.

    The research team titled „Targeting Therapeutic Windows in Essential Cellular Processes for Tumor Therapy“ involves scientists from the universities of Würzburg and Tübingen. Martin Eilers, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Biocenter is the group's spokesman. His counterpart from Tübingen is Professor Lars Sender of the Department of Transnational Gastrointestinal Oncology in the University Hospital in Tübingen. The DFG will support the new research team with 2.9 million euros of funding for three years initially.

    Years of active cancer research

    For many years, research groups at the University of Würzburg's Biocenter and at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University Hospital have focused on the changes that turn normal cells into aggressive cancer cells. The new DFG research team aims to identify the genes and proteins that are essential for the growth of tumour cells and that could become targets for new therapies.

    For this purpose, the research group uses newly developed genetic methods allowing them to directly identify the genes responsible for the aggressive tumour growth from a large pool of genes. These techniques require the close collaboration of biochemists and tumour biologists who rely on bioinformatics data and imaging expertise. Their collaboration has now been made possible by the funding.

    Several awards for research activities

    Eilers already received numerous awards for his research work and was able to obtain third-party funding. Only recently did he receive an "Advanced Grant" in the amount of around 2.5 million euros which allows him to research tumours of the nervous system.


    Prof. Dr. Martin Eilers, Biocenter of the University of Würzburg
    Phone +49 931 31-84111, Martin.Eilers@biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de

    By Gunnar Bartsch