The innovator’s award recognises Josef Penninger’s work in identifying a key molecular pathway how hormone replacement therapies and contraceptive pills can lead to breast cancer. His team provided the first genetic proof that a protein called RANKL is the master regulator of bone loss, which has contributed to the development of a novel drug already approved for the treatment of osteoporosis and skeletal related events in multiple cancers.
He was also the first to discover that RANKL not only regulates bone loss but is absolutely essential to enable sex hormone driven lactation in pregnant females, a finding that could explain further the connection between sex hormones and bone loss. Based on these groundbreaking findings, Penninger’s group went on to show that RANKL is indeed a missing link between sex hormones, in particular the sex hormone progesterone, and breast cancer, leading to the hypothesis that RANKL is a key driver of breast cancer initiation.
In addition, Penninger’s group has developed entirely novel genetics tools, so-called haploid stem cells, to quickly assess the function of specific genes that cause breast cancer and help tumours to spread. “This is the next step in the post genome era of cancer”, says Prof Josef Penninger. “We will use our new technologies to rapidly check the function of hundreds or even thousands of human breast cancer gene candidates”. The Austrian researchers expect to verify new breast cancer pathways, which they hope will quickly lead to a major impact in preventing and treating the disease.
Supported by the $7.4 million award, Josef Penninger intends to further use this knowledge to develop a new diagnostic method that helps in making predictions concerning the chances that any patient will develop breast cancer. At risk patients will then be able to start preventative treatment using the existing RANK ligand-blocking medicines. Josef Penninger adds: “If our experimental data could be extrapolated to humans, which is what we strongly believe, then we might have an entirely novel way of early breast cancer detection and, since RANKL inhibition is already used in patients, we even would have a medicine within immediate reach that could be used to possibly prevent the disease in those women at high risk”.
Evelyn Devuyst | idw
Eduard Arzt receives highest award from German Materials Society
21.09.2017 | INM - Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH
Six German-Russian Research Groups Receive Three Years of Funding
12.09.2017 | Hermann von Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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