Tackling two tasks at once: Alternative method to animal testing for developing therapies against childhood cancer

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(Vienna, 22.12.2021) Congratulations to St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute (St. Anna CCRI) scientists Univ. Prof. Dr. Heinrich Kovar and Dr. Branka Radic-Sarikas for winning a grant from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) under the program “Alternative methods to animal testing”.

By using state-of-the-art technologies like single cell and spatial transcriptomics, organoids and 3D-bioprinting, the research project MetLung aims at creating and validating patient-specific 3D-models of lung metastatic solid tumors, ultimately guiding personalized drug selection. Metastasis is a major cause of death for children and adolescents with cancer, and the most common location of pediatric solid tumor metastases is the lung.

“Our failure to cure patients with metastasis is partly due to a lack of understanding of tumor and niche cell interactions, and the associated mechanisms of treatment resistance. Knowledge about mediators of metastasis common to different tumor types may unravel novel therapeutic targets”, explains Branka Radic-Sarikas.

“In this project we develop innovative in vitro models recapitulating the full complexity of lung metastases to test novel treatments. This approach will allow us to prioritize the most promising compounds for clinical development thus significantly reducing the need for pre-clinical testing in animals”, concludes Heinrich Kovar.

FWF press release: https://bit.ly/3FlJZwU