The last decade's basic and clinical oncology research has revealed a number of so far unrecognised regulating responses (e.g. HIF-1) in cells exposed to hypoxia. These processes have been proven highly important for embryonic development and survival and seem to have a major impact on tumour progression and resistance to radiotherapy and certain types of chemotherapy. Because of their strong over-expression in solid cancer tumours in comparison to adjacent normal tissue of these processes, this new knowledge may open a therapeutic window for cancer treatment by utilising hypoxia-responsive processes as drug targets.
Major EU stakeholders in academic research and industry will therefore explore and validate these new molecular targets as a necessary step in the preclinical development of innovative new diagnostics and treatment.
Our committee has identified the outstanding basic problems to be solved over the first 2 to 3 years in order to allow a successful drug development. These include: dissection of relevant steps in cancer cell response to hypoxia, development of the technology platform needed, further identification and characterisation ofmarker/target molecules, and initial in vitro drug development. Our own mid-term evaluation will then select which hypoxic processes may be suitable as targets for cancer-specific treatment.
Simultaneously, we will study diagnostic tagging and therapeutic strategies leading up to a selection process of promising compounds to be further developed after the end of the project period. The new treatments will be developed along two lines: targeting known cytostatics towards the newly discovered hypoxia-responsive molecules and searching for so far unused compounds, preferably toxic to pathways active during hypoxia. The final effort will be to ensure continued (EU) industry utilisation of our results.
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Funding SchemeIP - Integrated Project