pathomechanism and obstacle for the treatment of malignant disease is
resistance of tumor cells against apoptosis and chemotherapy. We
hypothesize that a) cell-intrinsic as well as cell-extrinsic mechanisms
mediated by the microenvironment and the functional interplay of these
pathways contributes to escape from cell death and to drug resistance,
and b) that these mechanisms reflect specific vulnerabilities of tumor
cells that can be therapeutically targeted. In order to understand the
molecular mechanisms of resistance and translate them into novel
treatment strategies, we initiated this Helmholtz Virtual Institute
with the aim of "Understanding and Overcoming Resistance to Apoptosis
and Therapy in Leukemia".
We will use chronic
lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) –the most common adult leukemia in
the western world- as an ideally suited model system, but expect to
identify general mechanisms contributing to cancer cell resistance.