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“Emerging Fields” Austria": Research grant of 5.7 million euros approved by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) for therapy of osteosarcomaosarkoms

Austria is further expanding its leading position in basic research. "Devising Advanced TCR-T Cells to Eradicate OsteoSarcoma", or "DART2OS" in short, pathes the way for ground-breaking research to fight osteosarcomas through targeted therapies.

Austria is further expanding its leading position in basic research with the second funding line of the Excellence Initiative excellent=austria: Last year, 45 full proposals were submitted for funding on highly innovative topics. "Devising Advanced TCR-T Cells to Eradicate OsteoSarcoma", or "DART2OS" in short, has emerged as one of a total of five successful projects, as Federal Minister for Education, Science, and Research Martin Polaschek announced on March 12, 2024, at a press conference. Johannes Huppa from the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at CePII, along with his team members Johannes Zuber and Anna Obenauf (both IMP), Sabine Taschner-Mandl (CCRI), Michael Traxlmayr (BOKU University), and Dietmar Rieder (Meduni Innsbruck), are delighted to receive a total funding of 5.7 million euros, of which approximately 1 million euros are allocated for the Huppa research group.

In the EU, over 1,000 children are diagnosed with osteosarcoma annually, an aggressive bone cancer with complex, patient-specific genetic mutations, of which 300-400 ultimately succumb to their cancer in the prime of their lives. Despite over 40 years of intensive research, significant progress in clinical treatment is still lacking, as the development of targeted therapies is complex. DART2OS aims to overcome this stagnation with a novel cellular cancer therapy based on newly developed T cells that efficiently combat osteosarcoma. Through innovative and interdisciplinary approaches, osteosarcoma-specific mutated target structures will be identified, and highly sensitive genetically engineered osteosarcoma-specific killer T cells - known as TCR-T cells - are to be produced for cellular therapies. In addition, fundamental insights for the effective treatment of other types of cancer through personalized TCR-T cell therapies are to be gained.

"To truly succeed, radical interdisciplinarity is required with experts from the fields of pediatric oncology, biotechnology, functional genomics, T-cell and molecular immunology, as well as biophysics and bioinformatics," explains Johannes Huppa. "Funding opportunities for collaborative research of this nature are rare in Austria. Therefore, we are all the more pleased with the positive decision of the FWF within the framework of the Emerging Fields Initiative. As PIs and as a team, we are highly motivated to make the most of this tremendous opportunity. Because only by actually pursuing the described paths do we get closer to the goal. And even if not all efforts bear fruit, even apparent failures help us find the right way forward to help kids and young adults survive a vicious cancer."