The overarching goal of our research is to design and engineer nanoscale drugs for the therapy of cancer. This involves 1. the investigation of fundamental mechanisms in cancer, 2. engineering synthetic drugs with superior specificity and efficacy and 3. appropriate drug delivery through improved carrier systems. Cancer types, which we have pursued in this context, include neuroblastoma and breast cancer.
One of our focuses is the investigation of tumor initiating cells (“cancer stem cells”) and their role for tumor propagation and relapse. Cancer stem cells have been described for many solid tumors including glioblastoma and breast cancer. Another focus has been the investigation of neoangiogenesis in diseases such as adult macular degeneration and cancer and the possibility to use differentially expressed proteins as targets for recombinant drugs.
A technological aspect of our efforts is to solve a fundamental issue of display technologies in general, which is the lower limit of antigen/biomaterial required for successful identification of antibodies against potential drug targets. This lower limit is inhibitory for the de novo discovery of new markers on primary patient cells. The use of different library formats and innovative selection methods could overcome this barrier, and have a big impact on discovery of therapeutically relevant targets. See Funded Projects.
Recombinant targeted fusion proteins have been generated that selectively target cells in malignant tumors or vascular disease and deliver effectors which act on angiogenesis, metastasis or tumor growth. Nanoparticle based drug delivery has been applied to enhance antitumor activity of drugs acting on the vasculature.