A multidisciplinary team, made up of groups from various organisations will focus on three major cancers: advanced colorectal and lung cancers treated with chemotherapy and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) treated with azacitidine.
Dr Marcus Buschbeck of the Chromatin, Metabolism and Cell Fate group at the IJC will lead the project that will combine the approaches of basic researchers combined with the analysis of valuable collections of clinical samples. The total funding is 480,000 euros.
Intrinsic or acquired resistance is the main reason that currently available cancer treatments fail. The best treatments see an initial response from fewer than 50% of patients and nearly all responders eventually relapse after time. The main goal of this study is to identify desperately needed markers that will predict the response in individual patients and to discover new targets for combinational drugs to improve the response and prolong it.
Three very frequent cancers have been chosen for the study as there are groups specialized in their study on the campus, together they will pool their expertise. The team will study models of the diseases and their treatments in cultured cells in the laboratory to identify the genes that control sensitivity to the treatments. They will go on to look at the changes in the physical structure of the proteins that surround the DNA in chromosomes and regulate the function of individual genes. These mechanisms have so far not been explored in depth in order to find new drug targets.
The next stage will be to analyse 100 samples from patients to match what is happening at the cellular level with how patients respond to treatments for their disease. In the case of MDS, patients will be followed up by taking a series of samples to analyse how their genome changes over time and the effect of this on their response to treatment.
Further studies will examine genes and the signalling pathways within cells that control sensitivity to drugs to look for targets for new combinational therapies. The goal is to rapidly do the work in the laboratory in order to design well-informed clinical trials in the mid-term.
The work involves an experienced lung cancer research group, teams expert in studying colorectal cancer and MDS and basic scientists with expertise in a wide range of techniques for studying the mechanisms in cells or applying computational techniques to analyse the large quantities of data generated.
Marcus Buschbeck explains that, “The collaboration between clinical and technological basic research groups will allow us to generate translational results in a most cost-efficient manner. The aim of our project is to improve the treatments for patients of lung and colorectal cancer and MDS.”
Title PIE16/00011: Biomarkers and combinatorial drug targets for a personalized therapy for three major cancers