Seventh Framework Programme - European Union
An EU consortium to identify novel targets and drugs for cancer treatment

Michael Boutros

CancerPathways network co-ordinator 

Signaling and Functional Genomics, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany

Michael is pioneering tools to explore gene networks that make proteins involved in signaling pathways in fruit flies. Flies have thousands of genes in common with humans. Signaling pathways exist in all animals from worms to humans where they orchestrate the finely tuned process of biological development from fertilized egg cell to adult. Many such pathways are implicated in human disease so understanding how they work in flies is of potential medical benefit.

The Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center, DKFZ) where Michael’s research team is based employs almost a thousand scientists in the study of cancer research. The Institute is funded by the German Federal Government, the state of Baden-Württemberg and third-party funding, such as that provided via the CancerPathways network. Their total annual budget is around €150 million. The Institute aims to uncover fundamental processes in cancer and to develop innovative methods for diagnosis and treatment.

There are seven main research areas: signaling pathways, cell biology and cancer, structural functional genomics, cancer risk factors and prevention, tumour immunology, innovative diagnosis, prevention and therapy, infection and cancer and translational cancer research. Michael’s team has already discovered several new signaling components that important in cancer. These include members of the Wnt signaling pathway, which is implicated in colon cancer.