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Target practice – improving the selectivity of anticancer therapies

  • Researcher: Dr Hinrich Gronemeyer
  • Institution: IGBMC, Illkirch, France
  • Award Amount: £142,610 for 2 years from September 2014
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Target practice – improving the selectivity of anticancer therapies
Many current chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments aim to kill rapidly growing cells without distinguishing whether they are healthy or cancerous. Although this makes them efficient in destroying cancer, it also means they come with the high price of serious side-effects. Dr Hinrich Gronemeyer and his co-applicant Dr Valeria Pavet in France are using their grant to see if the special activity of a cell molecule called TRAIL might help improve targeting of these therapies. Along with other research groups, Dr Gronemeyer has shown that TRAIL binds to specific receptors and kills cancer cells, but not healthy cells. During the 2-year project, they will be working to understand the molecular details which make TRAIL selective for cancer cells. They will use two different lines of study, one will involve investigating how normal cells resist TRAIL, the other will study which underlying characteristics make tumour cells susceptible to TRAIL. To do this the researchers will use a lab-based model in which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells. Understanding the molecular basis of TRAIL activity in cancer cells compared to healthy cells will help reveal more about how tumour cells can develop resistance to this and similar molecules. His ultimate goal is to provide knowledge essential for the development of more tumour-selective cancer therapies.
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