Jan Pencik, PhD student at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research and the Clinical Institute of Pathology of the Medical University of Vienna is awarded the donated by Novartis Czech Discovery Award
The award is bestowed by a ten-member scientific jury to distinguished high-profile Czech researchers below 40 with outstanding contributions in the medical or pharmaceutical field, in particular innovative clinical, diagnostic and preventive approaches in oncology.
A gene that is responsible for cancer growth plays a totally unexpected role in prostate cancer. The gene Stat3 is controlled by the immune modulator interleukin 6 and normally supports the growth of cancer cells. The international research team led by Prof. Lukas Kenner of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research (LBI-CR) discovered a missing link for an essential role of Stat3 and IL-6 signalling in prostate cancer progression.
10 % of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a common form of blood cancer in adults, express a shortened form of the transcription factor C/EBPa that lacks a significant portion of the N-terminus of the protein. This short, mutant protein can induce leukemia development by preventing normal myeloid differentiation of blood cells. Through the investigation of specific interaction partners of the leukemia-associated, truncated variant of C/EBPa, the research group of Giulio Superti-Furga, Scientific Director at CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, has gained new mechanistic insights into the molecular details of oncogenic transformation by C/EBPa mutant proteins. Florian Grebien, postdoctoral fellow in Superti-Furga´s team and since 2014 group leader at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research, found that the short, leukemic C/EBPa mutant can exert its oncogenic functions through a selective interaction with Wdr5, a critical constituent of histone-methyltransferase complexes that promote gene activation.
A particular human gene variant makes breast cancer cells more aggressive. Not only are these more resistant to chemotherapy but also leave the primary tumour and establish themselves in other parts of the body in the form of metastases. An international group of researchers led by William Tse at James Graham Brown Cancer Center,University of Louisville, in cooperation with Lukas Kenner from the LBI-CR has now identified a gene, AF1q, as being substantially responsible for this and recognized it as a possible starting point for more accurate diagnosis and potential targeted therapeutic approaches.
An initiative entitled EAVI2020 led by Imperial College London has now been invited to enter the grant preparation phase after successful evaluation of a proposal answering to PHC 9 – 2015: Vaccine development for poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS.
The European Research Initiative of ALK-related malignancies (ERIA) forms the core of a successful proposal for a European Training Network (ETN). Suzanne Turner of the University of Cambridge, Lukas Kenner (LBI-CR) and Olaf Merkel (Medical University Vienna) formed a consortium around some of the leading researchers focussing in malignancies driven by the oncogene ALK to facilitate the development of less-toxic and more efficacious therapies. The consortium developed a competitive training programme for twelve PhD students, which is complemented by an array of companies.
Combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy shows promise for advanced prostate cancers. Immune cell manipulation plus chemotherapy achieves prostate cancer remission in mouse models where chemotherapy alone fails, which was reported on April 29 in the presitgious journal Nature.