Welcome to the Meierjohann lab!
Current research: Signal transduction in melanoma formation
Melanoma is one the deadliest forms of skin cancer, and the lifetime risk for developing melanoma in Europe and Northern America is between 1:75 and 1:100. Once metastasised, the chances of healing are rather slim. A better understanding of the tumor-relevant signaling events is therefore indespensable to be able to hit the tumor at its sensitive nodes. Targeted therapy with inhibitors of the RAF/MEK/MAPK pathway is nowadays routinely applied in the clinic, but invariably results in the development of resistance and tumor relapse. Our group works on signal transduction events in melanoma under normal conditions and after drug exposure in order to identify essential druggable targets which enhance the anti-tumorigenic efficacy.
Specifically, our work encompasses the following topics:
1) Intersection nodes of the MAPK pathway
Most melanoma oncogenes lead to the aberrant activation of the MAP kinase pathway. We examine the relevance of MAPK signaling for pro-tumorigenic events and investigate the cellular plasticity after inhibition of the RAF/MEK/MAPK pathway with the aim of optimizing targeted therapy (Read more: Targeted therapy: Pathway inhibition and crosstalk).
2) Identification of novel drug targets
Although reactive oxygen species have pro-tumorigenic features when produced at low levels, high ROS expression leads to cellular senescence and apoptosis particularly in tumor cells. We are using different melanoma models to investigate the role of ROS in melanoma initiation and maintenance. By this means, we could recently identify the cysteine metabolism as promising druggable target in melanoma (Read more: Identification of novel targets: The cysteine metabolism in melanoma development and maintenance).
DFG Project: “Glutathione-dependent reprogramming in melanoma and its impact on therapy” Mildred-Scheel Nachwuchszentrum (MSNZ) (German Cancer Aid) Project: „Elimination of the immune evasive effects of MYC oncogene as a new immune therapy approach“ with Elmar Wolf (Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Würzburg) and Bastian Schilling (Dept. of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergy, University Hospital Würzburg) https://www.med.uni-wuerzburg.de/msnz/research-projects/joint-projects/ Monika Kutzner Foundation and Brigitte und Dr. Konstanze Wegener Foundation Project: „Identification of novel tumor suppressor mechanisms in melanoma by analysing rare genetic diseases“ with Jochen Kuper (Dept. of Structural Biology, Rudolf-Virchow Center Würzburg) Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IZKF) Würzburg Project Z-14: „Interdisciplinary Unit for Personalized Tumor Medicine” with Ralf Bargou (Comprehensive Cancer Center Mainfranken, University Hospital Würzburg) and Andreas Rosenwald (Institute for Pathology, University of Würzburg)