René Bernards is a professor of molecular carcinogenesis at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. His laboratory uses functional genomic approaches to find vulnerabilities of cancers that can be exploited therapeutically. Using the concept of synthetic lethality, his laboratory searches for combinations of drugs that are lethal for cancer cells and for vulnerabilities of cancer cells of a defined genotype. Amongst his honors are the Pezcoller Foundation-FECS Recognition for Contribution to Oncology, the Ernst W. Bertner Award for Cancer Research from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award in Translational Research in Breast Cancer. He is also a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.

He will talk about "Exploiting the vulnerabilities of cancer resistant to drugs" in a keynote lecture.

  • In which research programs are you participating?

Main focus of the laboratory is pro-senescence therapies for cancer.

  • Which are the goals of your research?

We aim to induce a state of senescence in cancer cells by searching for drugs that will trigger this response in cancer cells. After senescence has been induced, we aim to kill senescent cancer cells with a second drug, a senolytic agent.

  • Which are the next steps you are going to follow in a short term basis?

Screening for pro-senescence compounds and genes, screening for senolytic compound and genes. Validation of these drugs in realistic animal models

  • What are you going to talk about in the Oncobell symposium?

The one-two punch models for cancer therapy described above with a focus on senescence.

  • Why you consider that is important to talk about this subject?

Because it is a new approach in the treatment of cancer that depends on sequential drug treatment rather than combinations of drugs.

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