Clinical Translation Programs

Research at the FCI

Clinical Translation Programs
Strategic centerpiece of the FCI

Clinical Translation Programs form the strategic core of the FCI. These multidisciplinary research programs are carried out by interdisciplinary teams consisting of researchers from clinical patient care, tumor biology, biochemistry, chemistry and bioinformatics. The respective teams are assembled individually for each clinical translation program. Functional cancer research on primary patient material, preclinical and clinical therapy development as well as molecular profiling of tumors work hand-in-hand.

Clinical Translation Program 1
Gastrointestinal Tumors

Tumor response to neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy (RCT) shows a wide range in rectal cancer despite identical histology and comparable tumor stages, ranging from clinical (cCR) and histopathological complete remission (pCR) to tumor progression and metastasis under therapy. Thus, of great clinical importance for rectal and also anal carcinoma is to (1) understand the molecular causes of heterogeneous tumor response to therapy, and (2) identify potential targets for targeted modification of RCT efficacy. These challenges are addressed here.

Clinical Translation Program 2
Molecular-stratified therapy of acute myeloid leukemia

The main focus of the program is on two major aspects: (1) The proteogenomic characterization of AML to explore clonal heterogeneity, and (2) The mechanistic exploration of leukemia cell metabolism and the resulting therapeutic consequences. In addition, we will include immunotherapeutic aspects in the program, which are currently gaining increasing importance in AML therapy. This will be done, for example, by designing innovative CAR immune cells, analyzing the role of the bone marrow environment on immune cell-AML interaction, and developing combinatorial treatment strategies.

Clinical Translation Program 3
Individualized immunotherapeutic approaches for the Therapy of Gliomas

The overall goal of the QP is to further develop the local immunotherapeutic approaches towards individualized combination therapies, with the local application of specific therapies in the CNS or tumor as a specific focus. An important basis for this is the in-depth characterization of genetic, epigenetic, morphological and proteomic profiles of tumor cells and surrounding cells as part of the immune architecture of the tumor in close cooperation with the newly created FCI platform Immunomonitoring. The mapping and modeling of tumor evolution and the development of therapy resistance by bioinformatic methods and the further development and increased use of liquid biopsies represent further important goals and are prerequisites for the rapid transfer of the developed approaches into new clinical trials.

Clinical Translation Program 4
Mechanisms of the metastatic cascade and development of individualized therapeutic approaches

Metastasis represents the greatest overall challenge in oncology and is responsible for most of the tumor-induced mortality. Compared to the rapid gain of knowledge in carcinogenesis and successful therapy development in major solid tumors, it has not yet been possible to make findings on the key steps of the metastatic cascade therapeutically useful. This QP aims to address this challenge. It integrates projects addressing (1) the deciphering of basic mechanisms of metastasis and (2) the development of experimental therapies in preclinical models.

Emerging field
Uro-oncology (prostate and bladder cancer)

In addition to the clinical translation programs and the metastasis program, a uro-oncological program is currently being developed. The aim here is to experimentally analyze the molecular and cellular effects of the genetic heterogeneity of invasive bladder cancer (BC) and prostate cancer (PC). The focus of the program is on the analysis of the tumor microenvironment (TME), the interactions between tumor and non-tumor cells, in order to improve the prediction of therapy success, to elucidate the mechanisms of metastasis and therapy resistance and to develop innovative therapeutic strategies.

The clinical translation programs form the strategic heart of the FCI. Multidisciplinary teams consisting of clinicians, tumor biologists, biochemists, chemists and bioinformaticians work together in these interdisciplinary research projects. The teams rely on the technology platforms provided by the five research areas. The respective team members are selected individually for each clinical translational program. Functional cancer research on primary patient material, preclinical and clinical therapy development as well as molecular profiling of tumors, work hand in hand.

The clinical translation programs have their origins in clinical observations and challenges encountered in diagnosis and therapy. They deal with specific diseases or disease groups according to the specialization of the clinical partners.

The addressed subjects are consistent with the treatment spectrum of the UCT in order to ensure that clinicians and basic scientists collaborate on issues that arise from the hospital.
The clinical translation programs are advertised annually and approved for a period of several years. The progress of the programs is continuously monitored to ensure that they fulfill the essential aims of ​​the FCI.