Marie Skłodowska-Curie ETN MAGICBULLET in Germany, Italy

European Training Network MAGICBULLET

The European Union has granted ~ 3.75 million € to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network (ETN) MAGICBULLET for years 2015-2018 as part of the Excellent Science Horizon 2020 Framework programme for research and innovation. The MAGICBULLET consortium brings together seven academic research groups from Germany (N. Sewald, Bielefeld and I. Neundorf, Cologne), Italy (C. Gennari, Milano and U. Piarulli, Como), Hungary (G. Mezö, Budapest and J. Tóvari, Budapest), and Finland (P. Laakkonen, Helsinki), and two pharmaceutical companies (Heidelberg Pharma, Ladenburg/Germany and Exiris, Rome/Italy) who will join forces to develop new chemistry-driven concepts for anti-tumour therapies.

The ETN MAGICBULLET will focus on chemistry-driven approaches toward conjugates between peptides (delivery vectors) that recognize tumors and anticancer drugs (payloads or warheads) in order to selectively fight cancer, a topic with a high demand of research activities.

The ETN MAGICBULLET will be supported by Bayer Pharma AG, Wuppertal/Germany, the Optical Imaging Centre Erlangen/Germany, Kineto Lab, Budapest/Hungary, Fraunhofer ITEM, Hannover/Germany, and IRBM, Pomezia/Italy as Partner Organzations. The partners will offer secondments to all ESRs recruited by the ETN to support the development of their research projects.

The ETN MAGICBULLET consortium covers fields of tumour biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, synthetic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, spectroscopy, conformational analysis, and computational chemistry. Fifteen young researchers, who will receive a tailored interdisciplinary training program in the frame of the research activities, will be employed.

Peptide-Drug Conjugates for Targeted Delivery in Tumor Therapy
Many tumor cells are characterized by the overexpression of certain antigens. Molecules that specifically recognize these structures are suitable as homing devices in tumor therapy. Conjugates of anticancer drugs with such a delivery vector targeting tumors would be a "magic bullet" according to the Nobel laureate Paul Ehrlich. Three antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) have already been approved for anticancer therapy. However, ADC have e.g. limitations with respect to tumor penetration, high manufacturing costs, and require challenging conjugation chemistry. Peptide-drug conjugates can have a high drug loading, easily penetrate tissue, and can be easily prepared in a homogenous form with straightforward and well-defined conjugation chemistry.