The "Biological Basis of Individual Tumor Response in Patients with Rectal Cancer" Clinical Research Unit is made up of scientists from the fields of:
surgery, oncology, molecular oncology, radiotherapy, radiation oncology, clinical pharmacology, pathology, human genetics, nuclear medicine, biochemistry, medical statistics, medical IT, bioinformatics, biometry and medical ethics.
The aim of this interdisciplinary group is to develop personalized therapies for patients with rectal cancer. In Europe and the USA, colorectal tumors account for more than 15 percent of all cancers, with an increasing incidence. With more than 60,000 new cases diagnosed every year, colorectal cancer is the second most malignant disease in Germany in both men and women, with more than 50 percent of the patients dying due to this malignancy. About 30 percent of these life-threatening tumors arise within a segment of 16 cm in length, which is called the rectum.
Until a few years ago, therapy was based on immediate surgery followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. More recent scientific findings have led to changes: current therapy regimes begin with a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed by surgery, after which further, intensive chemotherapy is undertaken. Despite the great advantages this new therapeutic strategy offers, the clinician is still faced with the dilemma that patients respond very variably to treatment: many tumors respond very well, while others shrink barely or not at all. Moreover, there are patients for whom preoperative therapy has rather negative results.
This prompted us to initiate the Clinical Research Unit: Structured into nine independent subprojects and with the participation of international partners, the scientists combine their specialized scientific knowledge and skills to develop an individualized therapy for each and every patient. Based on genetic analysis of the different patient groups mentioned above and their tumor tissue, the researchers try to establish how doctors can in future be enabled to make more accurate predictions of successful patient therapy than has so far been the case. This applies both to predictions of tumor response to therapy and to predictions of individual side-effects. The ultimate goal is to establish a therapy tailored to individual patients to raise their chances of recovery and greatly improve their quality of life.
Patient-focused therapy sets new challenges for everyone involved. The medical ethics subproject added in the second period of funding provides a supporting approach which it is hoped will pave the way for further advances. The issue at stake here is the crucial interaction between the doctor and patient in which basic decisions need to be discussed and taken. The objective is to develop strategies to see how the complex issue of life-saving or life-prolonging measures can be adequately dealt with and solved from the perspective of individual patients, taking into account considerations of personal quality of life, such as pain and anxiety.
This research project has been made possible thanks to the financial support and patronage of the German Research Foundation (DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). The Clinical Research Unit (KFO 179) took up its work in 2007 with seven subprojects. It was successfully reviewed by auditors from the German Research Foundation in 2010, and with the funding of its research activities guaranteed up to 2014, its work can continue without interruption. KFO 179 has been somewhat restructured for its second funding period; two subprojects have been added with the result that the unit now carries out research in nine subproject fields.
The purpose of this Web site is to give interested persons the opportunity to find out about the scientific objectives and achievements of KFO 179/2 and the women and men who work for it. Needless to say, we are also glad to answer any additional questions you may have - just contact us!
Prof. Dr. med. B. M. Ghadimi
(Head of Unit & Spokesperson KFO 179)
Department of General and Visceral Surgery
Robert-Koch-Strasse 40 (3-C2-509, TL 184)
Tel.: +49(0)551 398977
Fax: +49(0)551 396109