Research and development

Bruxelles Woluwe

In IREC, the specificity of basic research in oncology relies on the relationship between the cancer cell and its host. Understanding the determinants of the tumor microenvironment (hypoxia, acidosis and host cells) and its influence on tumor metabolism thus offers FATH researchers an original prism for the dissection of biological mechanisms leading to the progression of the disease. Within the host tissue, cancer cells must continually struggle to meet the bioenergetic and biosynthetic needs necessary for their survival and proliferation. This mode of metabolic adaptation actively participates in metastatic dissemination and resistance to treatment. The mechanisms involved, in particular via stroma modulation (intercellular cooperation, angiogenesis, immune anergy, etc.), are studied using cell and animal models for the cancer type studied. Several translational research projects are aimed at the preclinical and clinical development of new anticancer drugs targeting different aspects of tumor cell biology, including mitochondrial oxidative stress, reticulum stress and autophagy.

Clinical research involves several IREC oncologists conducting therapeutic trials at the King Albert II Cancer Institute. In particular, a unit of innovative therapies includes patients in phase 1 trials and thus offer them the opportunity to benefit from the most recent treatments. In addition to clinical studies conducted in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, academic clinical protocols are developed in the field of targeted therapies and immunotherapy. The main goal of these studies is to optimize the personalization of treatments and to identify (non-) responding biomarkers to the latest therapeutic innovations. To complete these clinical trials, several laboratories are studying the resistance mechanisms to anticancer therapies. The medical oncology laboratory (MIRO Pole) uses models of ENT tumor fragments derived from patients then implanted in mice, and PNEU researchers dissect the proliferation and invasiveness mechanisms favoring the progression of small cell lung cancer. The MIRO Pole is also active in the study of genetic anomalies predisposing to breast cancer in families at risk and numerous radiotherapy projects including a cutting-edge expertise in radiophysics, radiochemistry and image analysis. The objective of this research is to improve the effectiveness of irradiation treatments, mainly in ENT and lung tumors, for instance by using the various PET tracers in molecular imaging to reach a better contouring.