Rebekka Schneider received an ERC starting grant “deFiber” in 2017. Her research focuses on understanding the step-wise progression of a chronic and incurable blood cancer which leads to bone marrow fibrosis. Bone marrow (BM) fibrosis is the continuous replacement of blood forming cells in the bone marrow by scar tissue, ultimately leading to failure of the body to produce blood cells. There are two central problems in the current disease management of MPN: 1) no biomarker exists to reliably predict the individual transition from the myeloproliferative to the fibrotic phase which is crucial for treatment decisions and disease control and 2) no specific anti-fibrotic therapies exist. Dr. Schneider and her team identified within the ERC funded “deFiber” project that the alarmin heterodimer S100A8/S100A9 is exactly such a prognostic and predictive biomarker and importantly showed that targeting these alarmins with the small molecular oral inhibitor Tasquinimod reduced fibrosis but also the cancer cell burden (which makes S100A8/S100A9 a targetable biomarker).
The objective of this ERC Proof of Concept is now to demonstrate the clinical application and commercial viability of the alarmin heterodimer S100A8/S100A9 as a novel predictive biomarker and as a novel therapeutic target for the diagnosis and treatment of bone marrow fibrosis related to blood cancer.