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The Interdisciplinary Laboratory (Part 2 of 4)/ The history of the RCCL Collection

Therapy resistance is the biggest obstacle to the treatment of cancer. In many paediatric and adolescent cancers, drugs initially respond well but may stop working during the course of treatment. The consequences are treatment failure and – in the worst case – the death of the child. Professor Jindrich Cinatl, Head of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Tumour and Virus Research (IDL), is very keen to find out the reasons for this resistance. Since 1986, he and his team have been working on understanding why cancer therapies fail and developing treatment options for patients for whom no effective therapy is currently available.

To this end, Professor Cinatl began to establish resistance models for childhood cancers back in the 1980s. Over time, this has resulted in the Resistant Cancer Cell Line (RCCL) Collection, which today consists of over 2,500 drug-adapted cancer cell lines.

While the original focus was exclusively on paediatric models, the RCCL Collection now also includes models of cancers that occur in adults. It has been shown that comparing the mechanisms occurring in adult tumours significantly promotes an understanding of the resistance mechanisms in paediatric cancer.

The cell bank enables research into the efficacy of existing drug groups based on individual biomarkers, as well as existing drugs that are not used in cancer therapies. The cells are stored at around minus 196° Celsius in special cryo-nitrogen tanks. Together with Professor Martin Michaelis, who has been working at the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK) since 2011 and (again) in the Interdisciplinary Laboratory at the Dr Petra Joh House of the Frankfurt Foundation for Children with Cancer since 2023, he is researching the causes of resistance and new treatment options using the resistant cancer cell lines.

In addition to the research groups of Professor Cinatl and Professor Michaelis, more than 120 academic and commercial institutions worldwide use cells from the RCCL Collection. These include the Broad Institute, the Sanger Institute, the German Cancer Research Centre, the Institute for Cancer Research in the UK and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, as well as major pharmaceutical companies such as Ely Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Servier and Merck. As a result, the RCCL Collection enables research in numerous research groups around the world that would not be possible without it.

The Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Tumor and Virus Research – How it all began (Part 1/4)


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