Natural products and natural product analogs against therapy-resistant tumors and microorganisms: new lead structures and modes of action
Unraveling molecular resistance mechanisms against pharmacologically active compounds as well as the search for new bioactive compounds that can overcome either intrinsic or extrinsic resistance are core subjects of pharmaceutical research. This important topic will be investigated within the planned Research Training Group as exemplified by chemoresistant tumors and infections with chemoresistant microbial pathogens. Both forms of diseases are characterized by numerous resistance mechanisms against currently available drugs which may either weaken the success of drug therapy or which will render it completely ineffective. Known resistance mechanisms of tumors and microbial pathogens show functional similarities. Efforts aiming at a combined study of antitumor and of antimicrobial activities will thus lead to a scientific added value, especially as microorganisms often serve as model systems for research on more complex eukaryotic cells. Natural products and analogs inspired by natural products that are derived from stress exposed and hitherto rarely investigated marine organisms and fungal endophytes (e.g. from the People’s Republic of China) will serve as a pool for new lead structures and inspirations for novel molecular tools that will help in unraveling molecular modes of action and resistance mechanisms. The planned Research Training Group is highly interdisciplinary. It will enable graduate students to acquire comprehensive knowledge in important basic as well as applied aspects of modern preclinical drug discovery and will qualify them for future sophisticated professional activities. The planned Research Training Group will further strengthen the already established research priorities of the HHU in the field of tumor and infectious disease research and will add the important aspect of pre-clinical drug discovery. A structured training program for graduate students which includes the acquisition of career relevant key qualifications will be implemented by connecting the planned Research Training Group with other, already existing graduate programs of the HHU. This Research Training Group aims at forming a new generation of experts in the field of molecular drug discovery with a unique interdisciplinary capability for which there is a high demand in academia and in industrial research as well as in regulatory authorities.