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Molecular Oncology
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Genetics, environment and molecular therapy concepts of cancer (Molecular Oncology)

The two day seminar gives an insight into the basics of tumorigenesis and tumor biology. Cancer is a genetic disease. The molecular causes of genetic aberrations in tumors become evident from monogenetic cancer diseases in the field of DNA-repair. The importance of DNA-integrity in normal cells and its loss in tumor cells progressing from a benign to a malignant state of DNA-integrity will be explained. However, as tumors grow, the environment becomes increasingly important. This will be illustrated  by examples like tumor vascularization, tumor stroma and tumor immune cells. The intratumoral and intertumoral heterogeneity due to genetic and non-genetic causes becomes a hallmark of the evolving tumors. Furthermore, the basics of tumor therapies will be reviewed and the processes of tumor drug development will be explained using the examples of small molecules and monoclonal antibodies. Finally, issues with the in vitro/in vivo correlation of tumor cell models as well as cell line identity problem will be discussed. The lectures cover not only text book knowledge but also recently published scientific results. The seminar is suitable for biology and life science master students, medical students and PhD students.

2-day seminar WS 2018/2019: 27th and 28th of March 2019. Univ. Wuerzburg, Dept. Human Genetics. Lecture room A102, Biocenter Hubland. Daily schedule: 8:30 am to 5 pm. Language: English. For participants a presentation of a scientific publication in the field of oncology is mandatory. 3 ECTS points.

Lecture numbers: Faculty of Medicine (03565000), Faculty of Biology (06011330).

Number of students accepted: 16

First day

Lecture 1: Molecular oncology: principles and genetics

Seminar presentation: Cancer stem cell definitions and terminology

Lecture 2: Molecular oncology: therapies and drug development (part 1) 

Seminar presentation: Intra-tumour heterogeneity


Second day

Lecture 2: Molecular oncology: therapies and drug development (part 2)

Seminar presentation: Mitochondria and cancer OR microenvironment and cancer

Lecture 3: Molecular oncology: efficacy prediction and cell line identity

Seminar presentation: The evolution of the cancer niche OR tumor metastasis


Lecture content

Cancer epidemiology, cancer types and major characteristics of tumor development

Genetics of developing tumors: oncogenes, tumor-suppressor genes, gatekeeper/caretaker genes

Causes of sporadic cancer (chemical, physical, biological)

Spontaneous  DNA lesions and DNA-repair defect mechanisms

Cell cycle dysregulation and chromosomal aberrations in cancer

Hereditary cancer and human cancer syndromes

Complexity of cancer development (genes, proteins, environment, in vivo evolution)

Tumor heterogeneity (gene expression and mutations)

Cancer stem cell theory; epithelial-mesenchymal transition

Tumor development and environment: energy supply, hypoxia, stroma cells, immune cells

Circulating tumor cells in vivo

Cancer therapeutic targets and drug development: from hits to leads to clinical compounds

Cancer intervention strategies: low-molecular weight compounds, antibodies, cytokines, anti-tumor immune cell transfer, DNA vaccination, nucleic acid therapies

Personalized health care and targeted tumor therapy

In vitro cell culture model prediction of in vivo anti-tumor and side effects of drugs

In vitro tumor cell models: the problem of cell line identity