Much effort has been devoted to understanding how modulating cell metabolism may interfere with tumor growth. While the basic pathways have been worked out, we now need to better understand them in terms of their interactions between cancer and immune cells.

This lack of knowledge hinders efforts to exploit inhibition of cancer metabolism for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes.

Crucially, clinical trials using metabolic inhibitors gave mixed results in cancer patients, because we do not know yet the rules of this interaction. In this sense, META-CAN will improve the understanding of these metabolic pathways in cancer in their dialogue with immune cells.

This will serve as a platform for drug discovery and diagnostics efforts that aim to therapeutically target metabolism, inflammation or immune responses for the treatment of a variety of cancers.

Specifically, this program has the following research objectives:

1. Uncover the effect of inhibition of metabolism on tumor cells.
2. Delineate the effects of nutrient-poor and hypoxic microenvironment on the cross-talk of tumor-associated innate immune cells.
3. Reveal the impact of nutrient microenvironment on tumor cells and lymphocytes.
4. Develop anti-metabolic drug and diagnostic markers.


The research program is organized into 4 complementary, parallel Work Packages (WPs 5-8).
Each WP is divided into tasks to be carried out by one or two ESR.

WP5 (Meta-Tumor)
will provide the rationale for targeting specific metabolic pathways as a therapeutic strategy based on state-of-the-art metabolomics and “big-data” analysis.
WP7 (Meta-Change) will investigate how the metabolic adaptation of tumor cells affects the function of infiltrating immune cells.
WP6 (Meta-Dialogue)
will focus on comprehensive mechanistic understanding of the interplay between microenvironment,
cancer and immune cells.
WP8 (Meta-Drug)
will focus on developing/identifying or repositioning compounds that modulate the function of relevant metabolic pathways.