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GRK 2573- The Inflammatory Tumor Secretoma: From Basic Understanding to New Therapies

The graduate school concentrates on investigations of the inflammation-associated tumor secretoma and its influence on tumor progression and therapy resistance.

The aim is to establish an internationally competitive research center for the structured training of outstanding doctoral students in this field. Students of the natural sciences and medicine are the target groups of the program and should be involved early in the course of their studies.

The tumor secretome comprises factors released by cancer cells and host cells within the tumor microenvironment (TME). The role of the tumor secretome in the pathogenesis of malignant diseases has recently been described. It is a source of biomarkers and innovative therapeutic approaches. However, the composition and influence of the components of the secretome on the interaction of tumor cells and host cells are only partially understood. The GRK focuses on different tumor entities (ovarian carcinoma, pancreatic carcinoma and leukemia) that are critically dependent on the TME. One focus is on the role of NF-κB and p53-regulated proteins and extracellular vesicles, which influence the plasticity of immune cells, invasion and metastasis and resistance to therapy. In addition, the importance of the therapy-induced secretome after chemotherapy and the associated DNA damage for the immunological defense against tumors is investigated.

The structural peculiarity of the GRK is the focus on human samples and innovative in vitro models combined with the interdisciplinary training. As part of a structured curriculum and a scholarship program, core facilities and the participating research groups with the appropriate expertise offer theoretical and practical courses (omics, bioinformatics, imaging methods, in vitro cell culture models and mouse tumor models). This should enable the research of cellular interactions in the TME with a focus on the contribution of the secretome at an internationally high level. Taken together, these activities will help train a generation of scientists who deal with both fundamental scientific issues and clinical research. The aim is to open up career opportunities in academic research and beyond in industry, management or society.

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