(Harnessing PROTEin degradation for advanced Childhood Tumours)

CHALLENGE: Solid tumours in children

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Team PROTECT aims to establish a platform to test and develop drugs that target the undrugged drivers of childhood solid tumours. 

Team Lead
Stefan Pfister (Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ))
Germany, Spain, US, UK

The idea

Survival rates for children with solid tumours, including brain tumours, have largely plateaued over the past three decades. Cures will require innovative interventions that specifically target the unique biology of these tumours.   

PROTECT will focus on major cancer-driving proteins in Ewing sarcoma, neuroblastoma, synovial sarcoma, ependymoma and high-grade glioma, using different approaches to target these as yet undrugged cancer drivers and overcome resistance to available targeted inhibitors.   

The team aims to test drug candidates that are at different stages of the drug development pipeline, including degraders and small molecule kinase inhibitors. Its overarching objective is to establish a platform for repeated developmental cycles of paediatric-specific drug development for emerging targets.   

PROTECT will harness the power of a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative team of world-leading experts in paediatric oncology, targeted protein degradation, high-throughput chemical screening, medicinal chemistry, structural biology, tumour biology, preclinical drug testing and clinical trials, complemented by a trans-atlantic group of engaged patient representatives.

"We are all extremely honoured and excited about this news and are eager to join forces to prepare a very impactful full proposal. We aim to develop therapeutics that specifically hit the Achilles’ heels, targets previously considered undruggable, for some of the most challenging cancers in children."