Tumor therapy has achieved enormous progress during the last decade, with new combinations of chemotherapeutic agents and radiotherapy, and recent breakthroughs in immune therapy. If more and more patients can be cured or experience prolonged remission, the amelioration of the prognosis for most solid tumors including gastrointestinal malignancies remains slow and modest. Several factors account for the limited success of anti-cancer therapies, such as late time of diagnosis and non-resectability of the primary tumor or its metastases. Furthermore, the intrinsic ability of cancer cells to adapt rapidly to their environment and to evolve can result in resistance to chemo-, radiation or immune therapy, ultimately leading to tumor relapse. In addition, tumor cells are able to render themselves invisible to and/or resistant against the patient’s own immune system. This immune evasion can occur long before a tumor reaches its clinically detectable size.
The research focus of our group concentrates on the mechanisms of tumor resistance in gastro-intestinal cancers. Our current main projects are: