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WNT-mediated signal relay in stem cells and oncogenesis - from basic biology to applications (WntsApp)
Start date: Aug 1, 2013, End date: Jul 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The ITN WntsApp is organized to achieve 3 key aims: (i) Provide a committed training programme for young researchers to bridge the gap between basic scientific knowledge and drug development, (ii) Centring research on a key cancer-signalling pathway, WNT signalling, to stimulate synergies and (iii) Strengthening the link between international partners and private enterprises to stimulate innovation and facilitate exploitation of results. We have recruited ten full partners from academia and industry from seven EU countries, providing a highly interactive research and training programme. Fellows get exposed to a wide range of activities in the private sector, including biotechnology and drug development, but also the publishing business. WntsApp fellows also profit from the activities of the SME PCDI, who are professionals in advising and supporting young graduates researchers.The scientific focus will be on the WNT signalling pathway that mediates critical cell fate decisions and is strongly linked to cancer. The fellows will address the mechanisms that relay cellular WNT signals from the membrane to the cytosol and nucleus, at the atomic, molecular and organismal level. The underlying molecular mechanisms provide attractive drug targets, particularly in regenerative medicine and cancer treatment. We will study and interfere with WNT signalling at various levels, focusing on conceptual advances regarding receptor specificity, allosteric effects, assembly and disassembly of complexes, WNT-regulated conformational changes, regulation of protein stability, role of molecular chaperones, protein-protein interactions, consequences for stem cell maintenance, mutation-induced tumourigenesis and the generation of high affinity agonists and antagonists that modulate receptor activity. The coherent class of students working on this multidisciplinary theme will create synergisms, stimulate associated graduate schools and offer new opportunities for exploitation of results.
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