Precision medicines for cancer

The hallmark of life threatening cancer is the spreading (metastasis) of cancerous cells throughout the body. A central process for an incipient cancer cell to become invasive is epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The EMT process causes a gradual loss of original cellular characteristics including the attachment to neighboring cells, endowing cancer cells the ability to metastasize. Also in the maintenance of metastasis EMT plays a pivotal role, as the plasticity of metastasis initiating cells is dependent on the ability to undergo EMT.

The critical pathological event of EMT in cancer is the down-regulation of the adhesion molecule E-cadherin. The EMT process appears to be central in the pathogenesis of various types of epithelial cancers including prostate cancer, breast cancer, pancreas cancer, lung cancer and bladder cancer.

A potential solution for fighting various types of cancer involves the reversal of the EMT process, universal to several types of cancer. By reversing EMT, the incipient cancer cell is prevented from gaining invasive and malignant properties. Our technology comprises chemical compounds that effectively reverses the EMT process by restoring proper adhesion molecule expression on cancer cells.

Henk Viëtor
Startup activities

Pre-Seed Grant 2009