CENTRE FOR TUMOUR ECOLOGY
Research of the Cancer Microenvironment Supporting Cancer Growth and Spread

Introduction

Malignant tumours represent a complex "ecosystem," which beside difficult-to-treat cancer cells consists of numerous other, non-cancerous cells supporting the cancer cells. These "supporting" cells have significant effects on the growth of virtually all types of solid tumours and their spread throughout the patient's organism.

So far, treatment of malignant tumours has been dominated by the attempts to target the cancer cell itself. However, a therapeutic intervention into an auxiliary component of the tumour ecosystem may have far-reaching consequences for the cancer cells themselves, potentially leading to a far better therapeutic outcome of the patient.

Some of the findings obtained recently by the members of the investigation team on the mechanism of functioning and targeted interventions into this supporting tumour microenvironment are very promising and have already been patented. Thus, they may lead to an entirely novel approach to the treatment of malignancies.


In this project, we wish to continue this research in seven inter-related research programmes: Tumour Microenvironment, Molecular Diagnostic and Therapeutic Targets, Molecular Recognition and Drug Design, Cancer Cell Invasiveness, Viral Oncogenesis, Cancer Proteomics, and Cancer Genetics and Transcriptomics.

In these programmes, we will provide detailed mapping of the particular key molecular mechanisms and determine the most appropriate methods for their potential therapeutic treatment.

Further, based on the research results of these programmes, we will lay foundations for the design of novel compounds that may have direct therapeutic effects in an innovative approach to anti-tumour therapy. We can even expect that these novel agents will be significantly cheaper than the currently used therapeutics.


As specific outcomes of this project, we expect to achieve better insights into cancer progression and to develop new tools for such discoveries (e.g., specific imaging probes). The findings obtained in basic research may later translate into improved strategies at all levels of cancer prevention, diagnostics and treatment. 

The new knowledge may have potential in applications for patents. So far, the team of investigators have filed more than 70 patents, including the international ones. The novel agents discovered in our project may be subjects for patent applications.

The concentration of leading experts, up-to-date equipment and experimental strategies by the planned project is unparalleled in the field of cancer biology in the Czech Republic.

As well, international collaborations confirmed by memorandums with prestigious institutions such as Harvard School of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, USA, University Antwerpen, Belgium, Portland State University, USA, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany, and Midwestern University, College of Pharmacy, Glendale, USA, is a guarantee of the quality of the proposed research.