Andreas Strasser - Research projects

Andreas Strasser - Research projects


Understanding the molecular mechanisms that control cell death in health and disease

We are using genetic (Crispr/Cas9 and shRNA library) screens to identify critical regulators of cell death signalling and tumour suppression by p53. The functions of ‘hits’ from these screens will be identified by generating in vivo laboratory models that lack or over-express these proteins.

We expand substantial effort on clinical translation of our discoveries by collaborating with chemists and structural biologists at the institute, and leading biotech/pharma companies from overseas. Most notably this has assisted in development of inhibitors of pro-survival BCL-2 family members (so-called BH3 mimetics) for cancer therapy. 

BH3 mimetic therapies for brain cancer

Our laboratory previously identified factors that are critical for the sustained survival and expansion of different types of cancer cells. 

Collaborations with major pharmaceutical companies facilitated the development of so-called ‘BH3-mimetic’ drugs that inhibit these pro-survival factors, called BCL-2, MCL-1 and BCL-XL. We showed that these BH3 mimetic drugs can efficiently kill a broad range of cancer cells. We have found that in tissue culture ‘BH3-mimetic drugs’ can kill human brain cancer cells much more potently than the currently used chemotherapeutics.

With the support of the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, we have established new models of brain cancer to test and evaluate the potential of BH3-mimetic drugs for the treatment of patients with brain cancer. We are now undertaking pre-clinical studies to test whether these drugs are effective ‘in vivo’. If these studies prove successful, we will engage clinical collaborators to proceed with clinical trials.

Team members: Francine Ke, Kerstin Brinkmann