According to the latest reports in 2008 approximately 12.7 million cancers were diagnosed and 7.6 million people died of cancer worldwide. Moreover, cancer is the leading cause of death in the developed countries.
Even though early detection methods and treatment options of tumors improved due to a better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms, resistance to classical chemotherapeutics is still a tremendous challenge for cancer therapy. About 30% of all breast cancer patients who are successfully treated at early stages are suffering a relapse accompanied by metastasis and chemoresistance to classical drugs. While the response rates for first-line chemotherapy including anthracyclines and taxanes are up to 70%, the response rate falls to only 20 to 30% after disease progression.
However, most cancer patients do not die because of the primary tumor, but because of the dissemination of tumor cells which leads to metastasis formation at distant organs which gradually impair their function.
Hence, we are unravelling these two fundamental mechanisms of cancer: metastasis and chemoresistance.
Characterizing and later on exploiting novel drug resistance mechanisms to improve cancer treatment efficacy as well as searching for novel mechanisms preventing metastasis are the tasks depicted in the following projects: