Migration of cells and invasion into healthy tissue are hallmarks of cancer. Such metastasis formation exerts a huge impact on mortality. Remodeling of the extracellular matrix is key for release of cells from the primary tumor and migration to sites of metastasis formation. Meprin α is a metalloproteinase that is involved in these processes and an influence of meprin activity on migration and invasiveness of tumor cells was already shown.
Within the project "MeGrate - Validation of the proteinase meprin α as an antimigratory target in cancer", a research team from Fraunhofer IZI, led by Dr. Daniel Ramsbeck, Head of the Astacin Proteinase Unit, together with researchers from the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Cell Research at the University of Freiburg, is investigating Meprin α as a drug target for various types of cancer. Focus is on breast-, colon- and hepatocellular cancer.
Furthermore, the scientists aim to analyse the molecular structure of meprin α in complex with potent inhibitors. After successful target validation, the researchers hope that this will enable the subsequent optimization of meprin inhibitors in follow-up drug discovery projects.
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for the period from 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2022.