Precision Targeting of the Tumor Ecosystem

February 26, 2024 to February 28, 2024

Tumors are complex ecosystems consisting of transformed tumor cells, adjacent and infiltrating stroma, immune cells, and non-cellular components of extracellular matrix and soluble factors. Tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment (TME) are engaged in bi-directional communication where the genetic and epigenetic composition of the tumor directs the composition and behavior of the TME, and the TME supports tumor growth, invasion, and therapy resistance. The specific set of factors within the TME that promote tumor growth and therapy resistance are induced by the unique perturbations of a given tumor, and understanding the interplay between tumor cells and TME has the potential to yield a rich array of targets for effective anti-tumor therapies with limited effects on normal tissue.

The Mark Foundation and Takeda hosted a workshop on February 26-28, 2024, in Charleston, South Carolina, to inspire interfield crosstalk and accelerate the development of novel therapeutics targeting the tumor-TME interface. The workshop focused on precision approaches to identify and target TME dependencies unique to specific tumor genotypes or other characteristics. The attendees included investigators with broad expertise in various aspects of TME and tumor biology, as well as scientists developing cutting-edge platforms and technologies to permit the identification, validation, and drugging of difficult targets.

The meeting catalyzed new collaborations for accelerating the development of novel therapeutics targeting the tumor-TME interface. These teams have submitted project proposals which are currently under consideration for funding by The Mark Foundation and Takeda as part of a commitment to supporting translational research in this area.


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