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Inhibition of tumor cell-induced endothelial cell death to prevent and treat metastasizing tumors

Dr Boris Strilic, Max-Planck-Institute for Heart and Lung Research

Max Planck Innovation


Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for more than 8 million deaths per year with metastases being the major cause of death from cancer (WHO). Most of the existing anti-cancer drugs are not effective enough to provide protection from this disease which is, at least in part, due to the fact that most treatments aim at targeting the growth of the primary tumor rather than processes of metastasis.


Metastasizing tumor cells are capable of inducing necroptotic cell death in endothelial cells during extravasation, a critical step within the complex processes of metastasis. We identified potential target sites within this signaling pathway that offer opportunities for interference with these processes in order to reduce or prevent metastasis.

Commercial Opportunity

Worldwide sales on cancer drugs for 2015 were more than 100 billion USD, still rising. Offering drugs that preferentially affect metastasis (with or without affecting also the primary tumor) offer unique (selling) features compared to existing anti-cancer drugs.

Development Status

Commercially available drugs that affect tumor cell-induced endothelial necroptosis were shown to block metastasis in vivo in mouse experiments. Further development of new (classes of) drugs and their testing in clinical trials is needed.

Patent Situation

PCT filed in August 2015 (EP15/068495)
National/regional phase in US/JP/EU

Further Reading

Strilic B, Yang L, Albarran-Juarez J, Wachsmuth L, Han K, Mùˆller C U, Pasparakis M, Offermanns S. Tumour cell-induced endothelial cell necroptosis via death receptor 6 promotes metastasis. Nature, 2016 Aug 11;536(7615):215-8.
Strilic B, Offermanns S. Intravascular Survival and Extravasation of Tumor Cells. Cancer Cell, 2017 September 11;32:282-293.


Inhibition of tumor cell-induced endothelial cell death to prevent and treat metastasizing tumors

Pharmacological inhibition of tumor cell (TC)-induced endothelial cell (EC) necroptosis results in reduced TC extravasation
and metastasis formation.