Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Development and evaluation of new approaches to cancer treatment

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.04.00  Medical sciences  Oncology   

Code Science Field
B520  Biomedical sciences  General pathology, pathological anatomy 

Code Science Field
3.01  Medical and Health Sciences  Basic medicine 
electrochemotherapy, electrogenetherapy, radiobiology, radiophysics, tumor physiology, immunohistochemistry
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (33)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  18298  PhD Erik Brecelj  Oncology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  207 
2.  35354  PhD Andreja Brožič  Oncology  Junior researcher  2012 - 2014  41 
3.  11308  PhD Andrej Cör  Oncology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  409 
4.  14575  PhD Maja Čemažar  Oncology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  1,425 
5.  02687  PhD Albert Peter Fras  Oncology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  271 
6.  07791  PhD Eldar Gadžijev  Cardiovascular system  Researcher  2009 - 2014  385 
7.  21329  PhD Alenka Grošel  Oncology  Researcher  2009  77 
8.  29479  PhD Julija Hmeljak  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  40 
9.  20657  PhD Robert Hudej  Oncology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  90 
10.  33227  PhD Tanja Jesenko  Oncology  Junior researcher  2010 - 2014  168 
11.  28387  PhD Urška Kamenšek  Oncology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  188 
12.  36366  PhD Špela Kos  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2013 - 2014  81 
13.  19058  PhD Simona Kranjc Brezar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2009 - 2014  315 
14.  36367  PhD Urša Lampreht Tratar  Oncology  Junior researcher  2013 - 2014  125 
15.  17477  Mira Lavrič    Technical associate  2009 - 2014 
16.  32175  PhD Boštjan Markelc  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2009 - 2012  224 
17.  31305  PhD Cecil J.W. Meulenberg  Neurobiology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  75 
18.  34373  PhD Maša Omerzel  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2011 - 2014  198 
19.  24478  Tjaša Pečnik Vavpotič    Technical associate  2009 - 2014  24 
20.  24830  PhD Nadja Plazar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2009 - 2012  187 
21.  37415  PhD Ajda Prevc  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2014  37 
22.  32084  PhD Mitja Rak  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  47 
23.  08750  PhD Zvonimir Rudolf  Oncology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  258 
24.  35355  PhD Monika Savarin  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2012 - 2014  62 
25.  32176  PhD Aleš Sedlar  Plant production  Junior researcher  2009 - 2012  54 
26.  17482  Boris Sekereš    Technical associate  2009 - 2014 
27.  08800  PhD Gregor Serša  Oncology  Head  2009 - 2014  1,511 
28.  34477  PhD Nataša Tešić  Microbiology and immunology  Junior researcher  2011 - 2014  41 
29.  26164  PhD Gregor Tevž  Oncology  Junior researcher  2009  56 
30.  29469  PhD Vesna Todorović  Medical sciences  Researcher  2009 - 2014  57 
31.  25485  PhD Mireille Treeby  Medical sciences  Researcher  2010  12 
32.  24444  PhD Suzana Vidic  Oncology  Junior researcher  2009  69 
33.  37534  PhD Katarina Žnidar  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2014  69 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0302  Institute of Oncology Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5055733000  15,447 
2.  2413  Universita del Litorale, Facolta di Scienze della Salute  Izola  1810014005  9,224 
We are facing quick developments in cancer treatment. In the last decade, a vast amount of knowledge has been accumulated on the initiation and promotion of cancer cells as well as on how cancer cells control their environment and what are the interactions between the host and the tumor. This basic knowledge about cancer cells enables us to treat cancer. Without the knowledge about specific properties of cancer cells it would not be possible to develop new treatments because effectiveness of treatment rests on subtle differences between normal and cancer cells. In order to introduce new treatments into every day clinical practice, we need a swift translation of knowledge from basic sciences into clinics. However, before clinical testing, it is mandatory to develop and evaluate new treatments in experimental oncology, whose main goals are to develop, either on cells in vitro and tumors in vivo on experimental animals, new treatments, discover their mechanisms of action, evaluate their effectiveness, and verify whether they are suitable for treating cancer patients with cancer. Our research program can be divided into several fields of interest that are interrelated in many aspects. Electroporation is a physical method for delivering molecules into cells. It is also applied to deliver chemotherapeutics - electrochemotherapy, or naked DNA - electrogenetherapy. The aims of our research program are to apply electrochemotherapy in the treatment of cancer patients with cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors and to optimize electrogenetherapy to enter the first clinical trials. The effectiveness of radiation therapy can be potentiated by radiosensibilization, either with radiosensitizing drugs or gene therapy. Therefore, another goal is to search for some applications of electrochemotherapy and electrogenetherapy in combination with radiation therapy. Furthermore, we will apply some new radiation techniques, like three dimensional conformal radiation and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), and stereotactic radiosurgery. We will try to test their efficacy from physical and biological aspects. The knowledge about physiological parameters of the tumors is important for the prediction and for follow-up of the new treatments. Different techniques of tumor blood flow and oxygenation will be performed after the treatment with standard and newly developed approaches. Immunohistochemical staining enables the detection of specific molecules in the cells that are essential for the knowledge about biological behaviour of cancer cells. Nowadays, COX-2 and its inhibitors are very hot topics that will also be investigated in our research program. This research program is complex, it is multidisciplinary and enables translational research in the described specific fields from preclinical testing into clinical practice.
Significance for science
The aim of the program was to develop and disseminate electroporation as medical application for treatment of tumors. Electrochemotherapy is ablation technique that has spread now into more than 140 cancer centers throughout the Europe. Our group, as pioneers in this field, has helped to develop its applications in treatment of cutaneous tumors. Currently we are translating this technology into the treatment of deep seated tumors. Also in this field we were the first that published the clinical study on 16 patients with liver metastases, and demonstrated safety and efficacy of the treatment. With further development in this field, our contribution in translating electrochemotherapy into treatment of other deep seated tumors has greatly contributed to the application of this technology in treatment of cancer. Gene therapy is innovative and rapidly growing treatment approach for cancer. Gene electrotransfer has been now recognized to have potential as delivery system, predominantly because of its safety compared to viral vectors. In our studies we developed plasmids encoding therapeutic molecules that would give antiangiogenic or immunomodulatory effectiveness. By further development and evaluation of the effectiveness we will foster this treatment approach into translational research, especially if it proves to be feasible and effective in combined treatment with radiation therapy. This activity has and will certainly have great impact on the role of gene therapy in cancer treatment. Both electrochemotherapy and gene electrotransfer have been translated into veterinary oncology, where we have been the leading actors so far. Therefore, we have on the basis of good pre-clinical work contributed to the development of this technology, to be implemented in treatment of animals, in Slovenia as well as internationally.
Significance for the country
Cancer incidence is steadily increasing, and the treatment of cancer patients is a growing financial burden for national health security systems. Specifically, because new targeted therapies are costly, however their effectiveness is below expectation. The impact of new therapeutic approach on health care system costs is an important factor in providing not only efficient but also less resource-intensive treatment approaches. With development of new therapeutic approaches as is electrochemotherapy we developed a new technology for treatment of cancer, which is electroporation based. The technology is relatively cheap and is applicable for drug delivery, and through its development it can replace some of the existing, more costly therapeutic approaches. Development of electrochemotherapy for the treatment of deep seated tumors will set the stage for its safe and efficient use in treatment also of other liver tumors and other deep seated tumors as well as. This method enables quality of life, predominantly those where other treatment modalities are exhausted, and may also increase their survival. Indirect impact of this project for society was the inclusion of the project in postgraduate studies in Slovenia as well as on the international level. According to this, doctoral students were involved in the project and the results were presented in their doctoral thesis. The results were regullarly presented at national and international conferences, and through this we promoted the Slovenenian knowlege, and were able to intergrate into the international collaborations. In addition, we are (co)authors of different patents and products, like: – coauthors of patent A cell based system for rapid detection and quantification of genotoxicity (Maja Cemazar, Gregor Sersa, Urska Kamensek ) – coauthors of patent Magnetofection of plasmid DNA with messenger gene into melanoma cells B16F1 cultivated in vitro with superparamagnetic nanoparticles in the presence of outer magnetic field (Sara Prijic, Gregor Sersa, Maja Cemazar ) – coauthor of inovation ECTplan - software for treatment planning of deep-seeted tumors with electrochemotherapy (Gregor Sersa)
Audiovisual sources (1)
no. Title (with video link) Event Source
1. Development and evaluation of new approaches to cancer treatment    Research programme video presentation 
Most important scientific results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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