The main objective of the REPANCAN is to integrate Jelena Grahovac, PhD at the Institute for Oncology and Radiology of Serbia, as a leader of a project that will address an urgent unmet need for new treatment strategy for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). PDAC is one of the most lethal types of cancer in the world, with a 5-year survival rate of less than 5% and an increasing incidence rate. Research on PDAC is limited and progress in patient survival has not been made in the last 40 years. To circumvent the high costs and long development times for new oncological drugs, the REPANCAN project will use the drug repurposing concept and establish a novel use for a class of nischarin (NISCH) receptor agonists. NISCH receptor itself has been shown to be a tumor suppressor in breast cancer and its agonists hold promise for targeting several aspects of the PDAC pathology: cell invasiveness, survival, metabolism, and the microenvironment. To address the acute demand for novel PDAC therapy, the REPANCAN project will integrate the bioinformatic, molecular and cellular research with the retrospective patient study though 3 research objectives: 1) Examination of levels of NISCH in patient tumor samples and in vitro model systems, 2) Establishment of mechanisms by which clinically approved NISCH agonists can limit PDAC growth and 3) Retrospective analysis of effects of NISCH agonist treatment on PDAC progression in patients. To strengthen the competence of Dr Grahovac and use cutting edge technologies in REPANCAN, a secondment at Dr Peter Carmeliet’s laboratory at VIB-KU Leuven is planned. REPANCAN will establish a novel prognostic marker, novel drug target and a ground for repurposing of low-cost drugs proven to be safe in one of the most lethal and understudied types of cancer.
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