New WWTF project on
colorectal cancer made possible by donations

In 2021 we funded seven major scientific projects on the topic of precision medicine with a focus on childhood diseases, oncology and internal medicine. The aim of the funding programme: to strengthen Vienna as a medical center in the direction of individualized diagnosis and treatment.

Not all excellent projects could be directly funded despite the outstanding evaluation of an international jury of experts. In particular, the project submitted by Dr. Herndler-Brandstetter, Dr. Matthias Farlik and Assoc. Prof. Michael Bergmann (Medical University of Vienna) was singled out for its "original approach", but could only be recommended and not funded. The WWTF, together with the Medical University of Vienna, has now succeeded in launching this project with December 2021 thanks to numerous donations.

This innovative project will address colorectal cancer, which is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer of all cancers and is associated with the second highest death rate. Approximately 900,000 people die from it worldwide each year. "The mortality rate is very high: of the 25% of patients who are already diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer, only about 14% survive the first 5 years despite therapy" - Dr. Herndler-Brandstetter said about the current medical status quo. The team is pursuing a promising new immunotherapy approach in the fight against forms of colorectal cancer to reduce this high mortality rate in the long term. The young team of researchers is building on existing preliminary work.

The focus of the interdisciplinary research team (cancer research, immunology, surgery) is on the development and preclinical testing of novel immunotherapeutics. Sequencing and screening methods at the single cell level are used for this purpose. This promising approach results in a completely newly developed preclinical model for the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer. The immunotherapies will be rapidly and specifically tested in clinical trials for their efficacy in cancer patients: "We hope to develop novel strategies for precision diagnostics and overcoming therapy resistance. Beyond colorectal cancer, we will also learn more about other tumor diseases through this project," said Dr. Herndler-Brandstetter.

In the long run, private investments in science play an increasingly important role for affected patients, also because projects like Dr. Herndler-Brandstetter's show how close basic research is to clinical practice.

Take a look into the lab

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