23 May 2016

Janine Erler awarded the Danish Cancer Society’s Junior Researcher Award 2016

Janine Erler studies the methods which cancer cells use to spread through the body and she was the first to describe the function of the LOX enzyme in this process. The LOX enzyme is produced in the cancer cells and released into the body where it works by altering the behavior of normal non-cancerous cells and thereby creating a microenvironment that helps the cancer cells to make a new home in another part of the body.

– Cancer cells releases LOX into the body, so that it reaches places which are still cancer free. The purpose is, that LOX acts like a messenger and alters the architecture of organs in other parts of the body, making them habitable for the cancer cells, says Janine Erler.

By measuring the levels of LOX enzyme she has shown, that it is possible to predict the course of disease in patients suffering from head and neck cancer and her research has led to the development of medicine that blocks the process started by the LOX enzyme. The medicine is now being tested on patients.

38 old Janine Erler has been studying cancer for 16 year. For the last 4 she has been a group leader at BRIC, Biotech Research & Innovation Centre.

Wants to personalize personal medicine even further

In the coming years, Janine Erler will continue to study the LOX enzyme and the role it plays in different kinds of cancer, in order to reach her overall goal of helping patients.

In an upcoming research project she will focus on tailoring tailored medicine even further. The goal is to first test the tumor of a single patient to find out which genes switched on and off. On the basis of this test a number of medical treatments will be selected which in theory should work on this patient and these are thereby tested on the patient’s own cancer cells, which will be grown in the lab by Janine Erler.

- Today, many patients receive medicine which turns out to be ineffective but cause severe side effects. By testing the drugs in this way in the lab, we hope to be able to select the most effective drug with the fewest side effects from the start, says Janine Erler