Pediatric Oncology Group

The working group pediatric oncology at the TCRI is under the leadership of PD Dr. Roman Crazzolara and works in close cooperation with the area of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Medical University of Innsbruck in the development of new therapies for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and adolescents and their implementation in clinical studies:

A.) How can signal transduction inhibitors slow the growth of leukemia cells?

Uncontrolled growth is a typical characteristic of cancer cells. This can be caused either by over-expression of molecules that sit on the cell surface (= receptors), or by activation of tyrosine kinases known to turn on the growth of genes. Depending on the signaling molecule and receptor other processes of cancer cells, such as the formation of metastases, the maturation or programmed cell death can be controlled as well.

We have shown in the past that mTOR is a key protein in the signal transduction of leukemia cells; inhibitors of mTOR interfere with central processes in tumor growth: they inhibit cell growth, block cell survival, reduce the proliferation rate and activate programmed cell death. Compounds from this class of drugs are intensively been investigated and some are already being tested in clinical trials for future approval.

B.) What is the effect of herbal substances on the growth of leukemia cells?

Natural active ingredients from plants that can block signal transduction pathways are tested for their effect in ALL cells. The exact mechanism will thereby be elucidated, and the combination with already used chemotherapeutic agents be investigated.