- Top News
- Press Releases
From basic research to application – the way to drug discovery is long. Scientists from TU Dortmund University, the Medical Faculty of the University of Duisburg-Essen at the West German Cancer Centre Essen and Ruhr-Universität Bochum have joined forces and have now produced and tested a potential active substance. With great success: The so-called “covalent-allosteric AKT inhibitor borussertib” has shown a promising effect against pancreatic cancer. The results were recently published in the renowned journal Cancer Research.
“This success could only be achieved through the cooperation of the various partners,” said Daniel Rauh, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology at TU Dortmund University, adding that “in a few years’ time, the new active substance could become an effective drug.” Due to its aggressiveness and high resistance, pancreatic cancer has unfortunately thus far proven to be insufficiently treatable. This is the starting point of Rauh’s research: By means of computer modeling, he and his team developed the new inhibitor, which is designed to disrupt the functioning of cancer cells. “Explained in a simple analogy, if you remove the spark plugs from a car, it won’t start anymore. The same applies to the tumor cell,” said Rauh, “its functioning is specifically disturbed.”
Success through collaboration within the University Alliance Ruhr
Designing and manufacturing the new active substance was a great success in itself. However, to make further progress, the chemists and structural biologists from Dortmund sought support from other researchers. In order to test the potential active substance, they worked together with physicians from Essen and Bochum: Professor Jens Siveke from the West German Cancer Centre at Essen University Hospital is an expert on pancreatic cancer; Professor Stephan Hahn and his team at Ruhr-Universität Bochum were able to test the active substance in vivo. For the first time, the effect observed initially only in cancer cell models could also be demonstrated in the living system, in this case in mice. By the way, the researchers chose the name of the new active substance, borussertib, as a reference to their favorite football club.
New insights into the effect of the inhibitor
Another success of the collaboration: The team was able to visualize the crystal structure of the disease-causing cells three-dimensionally for the first time. Professor Rauh explained what this means: “Imagine a lock and a key. If I know exactly what the lock looks like and how it works, I can make a suitable key for it.” In this case, the lock is a dysregulated protein molecule and the key is the new active substance. “In this way, we have gained valuable insights into the mechanism of action of the inhibitor at the atomic level,” said Rauh. The focus of further research is now on optimizing the new active substance in order to further develop it for clinical testing. This work will be carried out at the Drug Discovery Hub Dortmund (DDHD).
The joint research was funded by the Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) and supported by the Lead Discovery Center GmbH and IfADo – Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors in Dortmund. MERCUR promotes cooperation between Ruhr-Universität Bochum, TU Dortmund University and the University of Duisburg-Essen, which have been working closely together since 2007 under the umbrella of the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr).
Under the motto “Better Together”, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, TU Dortmund University and the University of Duisburg-Essen have joined together to form the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr). Since 2007, the three major universities in the Ruhr region have been pooling their expertise and thus strengthening their capabilities. More than 120,000 young people study, conduct research and work together in a network encompassing a subject spectrum ranging from engineering and natural sciences to the humanities, social sciences and medicine. The UA Ruhr thus makes the Ruhr region one of the strongest science locations in Germany.
Online version of the article in the journal “Cancer Research”
Search and find
Location & approach
The campus of TU Dortmund University is located close to interstate junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dortmund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dortmund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dortmund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dortmund.
To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.
TU Dortmund University has its own train station ("Dortmund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dortmund main station ("Dortmund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.
You can also take the bus or subway train from Dortmund city to the university: From Dortmund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dortmund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dortmund main station to the stop "Dortmund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dortmund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dortmund Universität S".
Dortmund Airport offers flights to several destinations in Central Europe. There are regular connections to Katowice, Kraków, London and Munich. For the approximately 20km-trip from Dortmund Airport to TU Dortmund University, you can use a shuttle bus to the railway Station "Bahnhof Holzwickede", from which trains depart to Dortmund main station (please visit Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr for more information). Normally, the fastest way is to catch a taxi at Dortmund Airport.
The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dortmund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dortmund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dortmund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.