Nav: Home

2017 Brupbacher Cancer Research Prize for Adrian Bird, Guido Kroemer & Laurence Zitvogel

December 08, 2016

The prize, donated by Frédérique Brupbacher in memory of her husband, Charles Rodolphe Brupbacher, will be awarded for the thirteenth time in February 2017. Endowed with prize money of CHF 100,000 for each award, the prize is considered one of the most prestigious research distinctions in the international cancer community. The prize goes to three outstanding researchers, this time for groundbreaking research on the impact of epigenetics, cell death, and gut microbiota on the progression of cancer. This research lays important groundwork for improving the understanding of cancer and for developing new, targeted therapies.

Interaction of Genetics and Epigenetics in the Development of Cancer

Adrian Bird, recipient of the first prize, is Professor of Genetics at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology of the University of Edinburgh. His work focuses on the interaction of genetics and epigenetics, an aspect of cancer development that has received little research attention to date. Methyl groups, which are added to the DNA, regulate the activity of numerous genes. The majority of the human genome carries such methyl groups. Within the genom there are also small regions, known as CpG islands, without such epigenetic marks.

In tumor cells, CpG islands are often methylated, and these DNA methylation changes generally trigger an abnormal inactivation of the affected gene. Adrian Bird and his team investigated proteins that bind to CpG islands and influence DNA methylation and other epigenetic characteristics. These proteins, which control the interaction of genome and epigenome, are often deregulated in cancer and may thus play a significant role in oncogenesis.

Influence of the Immune System on the Development and Treatment of Cancer

The second prize is being conferred jointly on physician Giudo Kroemer from the Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers of the Université Paris Descartes and immunologist Laurence Zitvogel from the Laboratory for Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy of the Gustave Roussy Cancer Center. Their research focuses on how the immune system influences the development and treatment of cancer.

The work of Guido Kroemer focuses on apoptosis - programmed cell death - the process by which cells self-eliminate when they become impaired. A further process, autophagy, plays a significant role in how cells survive the effects of toxic substances, such as during chemotherapy. Kroemer and his team were able to demonstrate that the death of cancer cells can stimulate the immune system, if autophagy has been activated in advance. This reactivates immunogenicity of the tumor cells, thus making them "visible" to defense cells and allowing them to be efficiently eliminated. The type of immune reaction triggered by dying cancer cells is thus decisive for the success of cancer treatment.

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Anti-Tumor Therapies

In various papers, Laurence Zitvogel and her research team demonstrated that gut microbiota not only influences its immediate surroundings, but also affects the immune response to cancer cells in other regions of the body. They further proved that the bacteria strains Escherichia hirae and Barnesiella intestinihominis substantially improve the success of chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide in patients with lung and ovarian cancer. Bacteria from the Bacteroidales, Burkholderiales, and Bifidobacteriales groups also affect tumor micro-environment and enhance the effectiveness of antibody therapies for skin cancer. Until now, it was unknown - and unexpected - that gut microbiota can enhance the body's immune reaction to cancer cells outside of the gut.
-end-


University of Zurich

Related Cancer Articles:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.