Development of cancer drugs using combined methods of genome and drug screening
Dr. Michael Boutros
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Helmholtz Association, Heidelberg
Recipient: German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Helmholtz Association, Heidelberg
Funding: GO-Bio Phase I (01.01.2007 - 30.06.2011, 3.100.415 Euro)
Michael Boutros has been active in the field of cancer research for several years and is specialised in the analysis of signal paths. While individual genes or proteins were once considered to play the strongest role in causes of cancer, the focus has now shifted to different genes and protein groups, as well as their interactions with one another. A systems biology approach is aimed at improving the understanding of these complex interactions and is also set to assist in the search for appropriate drugs. On the basis of RNA interference (RNAi) – a technique that enables the selective suppression of individual genes – Boutros and his team have developed a high-throughput method that can analyse tens of thousands of genes and their functions with regard to specific signal paths that are known to play a role in cancer development.
In their Go-Bio project, this method will be transferred from model organisms to human cells as well as coupled with a screening of substance libraries. This is ultimately hoped to facilitate the search for cancer-relevant genes and proteins with hitherto unknown functions, and assist in the identification of potential drug candidates. The researchers are focusing on the pathways as their points of attack as these are involved in the development of cancer at a relatively early stage and therapeutic application is considered promising. A company will be founded in order to develop the most interesting drug candidates up to the preclinical stages. It is also planned to extend the procedure to other diseases, which will be pursued through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.