de Duve Institute part of a European Consortium


On March 28-29 2018, Prof. Benoit Van den Eynde’s team took part in the kick-off meeting of project MESI-STRAT, which was awarded 6 million euros by the European Union to explore breast cancer metabolism and oncogenic signaling in order to define new blood biomarkers. This Horizon 2020 EU project aims to orient subgroups of breast cancer patients toward the most appropriate treatment, and to define new therapeutic approaches.

The European Union awards €6 million to a large international research-consortium, called MESI-STRAT, led by Professor Kathrin Thedieck of the University Medical Center Groningen. MESI-STRAT will take almost 5 years and explores the interplay of breast cancer metabolism and oncogenic signaling by systems medicine. MESI-STRAT’s main goal is to develop new models for knowledge-based stratification of patients into subgroups to guide targeted interventions.

Breast cancer is a complex disease with high prevalence in the European Union and world-wide. 75-80% of the patients have estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors and are treated with endocrine therapies. Endocrine therapies, which block ER-driven tumor growth, show high efficacy. Yet, a significant proportion of the patients will eventually relapse with metastatic breast cancer, and the recurrence rates remain almost constant for up to 20 years.

Breast cancer metabolism – a new concept for patient stratification

MESI-STRAT develops metabolite marker panels measurable in biological fluids to enable patient stratification, resistance monitoring and clinical decision-making throughout endocrine therapy. This is a new concept as breast cancer metabolism is poorly explored for diagnostics and therapy. Upon successful validation in preclinical models, the predictive marker panels and related treatments will be jointly investigated by MESI-STRAT’s clinical and industrial partners. A unique collection of matched breast cancer tissue, serum, and >10 years follow-up from the patient organization and MESI-STRAT co-coordinator “Patients’ Tumor Bank of Hope” (PATH, is essential for the longitudinal analysis of endocrine therapy resistance and relapse.

Research aims and approach

The MESI-STRAT consortium explores the interplay of breast cancer metabolism and oncogenic signaling (MEtabolic SIgnaling) by systems medicine approaches. MESI-STRAT develops new models for knowledge-based stratification of patients into subgroups with different endocrine therapy resistance mechanisms. MESI-STRAT aims to establish predictive pipelines for (i) patient stratification prior and during endocrine therapy; (ii) recurrence risk assessment when ending endocrine therapy; (iii) marker panels to guide established targeted therapies for endocrine therapy-resistant patients; and (iv) novel resistance mechanism-based therapy design.

A pan-European team of oncologists, modelers, bioinformaticians and experimentalists will develop new computational models in combination with network analyses and pharmacogenomics, to integrate multi-omics data and explore metabolic and signaling networks driving endocrine therapy resistance.

The MESI-STRAT consortium

MESI-STRAT is a 57 months project (funding volume 5.95 million Euros) coordinated by Prof. Kathrin Thedieck at the University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands (UMCG). Dr. Tobias Anzeneder from the German patient organization PATH Biobank is the MESI-STRAT co-coordinator.

14 partners from six European countries contribute to MESI-STRAT, coming from UK, Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, Spain and finally Belgium, represented by Prof. Benoit van den Eynde (de Duve Institute). The MESI-STRAT clinical trials are coordinated by the clinician scientist Dr. Christiane Opitz (DKFZ), and conducted by PATH Biobank (Dr. Tobias Anzeneder) and the University Hospital Heidelberg (Prof. Sarah Schott, Prof. Andreas Schneeweiss).

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 754688