Researching signal transduction pathways
The development of cancer is often caused by mutations in genes that control cell regulation. Several proteins have been identified that play a role in the signaling in cells that enables cell division. This project focuses on four of those signaling pathways: the receptor tyrosine kinase, the Wnt, GEF pathways and notch signaling.

The aim is to discover and develop new drugs against targets involved in these signaling pathways. So far, targets have been found that are crucial to the development of colon cancer. The next step will be to develop synthetic molecules that can modulate the proteins involved. Indeed, such a molecule has been found that can modulate the activity of the proteins that can lead to esophageal cancer. This compound will be further improved and specified to make it suitable as medicine.

Fast facts
Full project title: Novel cancer drugs based on signal transduction pathways
Start date: October 2007
End date: October 2011
Goal: Discover and develop new therapeutic drugs against novel targets in signaling pathways known to be involved in cancer
Principal investigator: Richard Janssen, Galapagos
Project size: 15 FTE's Partners: Agamyxis, Galapagos/Biofocus DPI, Hubrecht Laboratory, University Medical Centre Utrecht


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is a generic term for a large class of diseases all having one element in common: uncontrolled division (growth) of cells. In most cases a tumor develops, which is an abnormal growth of tissue resulting from the uncontrolled division of cells. This process may be started by external agents called carcinogens or inherited genetic factors. Carcinogens can be subdivided among physical, chemical and biological carcinogens.  The most important carcinogen is tobacco smoke (chemical carcinogen), others include radiation (physical carcinogen) and infections from specific bacteria, parasites or viruses (biological carcinogens). Cancer may also be caused by random errors in DNA replication.
Cancer can affect any part of the body and the symptoms thus vary depending on the type of cancer. Most common, however, are lung, stomach, breast, colon and liver cancer. Parallel to the large variety of cancer types there is also a large variety of treatment types. The most occurring are chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Which method is chosen depends on the location and stage of the disease as well as the patient’s general health.

PhD theses from this project

“What TI Pharma can deliver from collaborations is more efficient healthcare, faster time to market and quicker patient benefit.”

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