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Bernard Haendler: Fighting Cancer at its Roots

Prostate cancer cells divide uncontrollably and invade surrounding tissues. How can they be stopped? Bernard Haendler is working on a highly specific drug candidate to effectively treat patients.

We investigate substances close to filing.

Dr. Bernard Haendler accompanies a project in the final stage of clinical trials.

Only one in 14 medicines in the clinical trial stage will be approved for registration. The others will fail, usually due to a lack of efficacy, unexpected side effects or changes in the therapy landscape. The focus of my work is to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-tumor activity of a novel promising compound for prostate cancer treatment.

My area of expertise is oncology, the study and treatment of cancer. I’m the preclinical pharmacology representative in a project focusing on an androgen receptor antagonist that stops uncontrolled growth of prostate cancer cells. In men, this pathology is the third most common cancer, after lung and colorectal cancer.

Blocking Androgen Action

Our goal is to develop a specific prostate cancer therapy and our substance doesn’t target the growth of cells in general. It takes advantage of specific characteristics of the cancerous tissue. In prostate tumors, abnormal signaling of androgens – the male sex hormones – occurs. This is conveyed by the androgen receptor and the downstream deregulation of androgen target genes, which ultimately promotes tumor growth. Our active agent by binding, influences this mechanism: So our approach is to have our receptor in place of the natural androgens and thereby inhibiting the receptor’s function and blocks cancer growth. As healthy cells remain largely untouched, only moderate side effects are expected.

My colleagues and I are a strong team even after work. We keep ourselves fit by exercising together. I take part in running events such as the company relay race and enjoy cycling and playing volleyball. It´s not winning that is important but taking part and fostering the team spirit.

The Modern Era of Genomics

I discovered my interest in cancer research while studying biochemistry and later as a post-doctoral researcher. Back in the 1980s, a technical revolution began in molecular biology and new possibilities opened up in the manipulation and analysis of DNA. Now with the advent of next-generation sequencing a new revolution is on its way. Genetic research becomes much more complex as the wealth of genomic data originating from tumor samples increases daily and the bioinformatic methods to analyze them get more and more sophisticated. More than ever, the possibilities opened up by these tremendous advances in biomedical research fascinate me - and they encourage me to continue my research.

CV DR. BERNARD HAENDLER

1958 Born in Strasbourg, France

1983 Doctorate from the University of Strasbourg

1998 Habilitation at the University of Lille, in France

1985-1989 Post-doctoral fellow at Sandoz (now Novartis) in Vienna (Austria) and Basel (Switzerland)

1989-2006 Group Leader at Schering, Berlin, Germany

2006–2014 Group Leader/Principal Scientist, Department of Tumor Cell Research at Bayer, Berlin

2015-current Group Leader/Principal Scientist, Therapeutic Research Group Oncology II at Bayer, Berlin

2016-current Pharmacology representative in the global Darolutamide project team

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