Round table (26.09.2023): ” World Cancer Research Day at NIB”


On World Cancer Research Day, the National Institute of Biology hosted a lecture and a discussion about new technologies that will increase the understanding of cancer as part of the CutCancer project and thus open up new therapeutic options. 

 As part of the prestigious EU project – Horizon Europe Twining, the NIB researchers presented the CutCancer project to the media and the professional public. The project involves researching the processes of cancer formation and development as well as cancer resistance to therapy. In addition, it will enable the implementation of cutting-edge approaches and methodologies in the field of preclinical cancer research in Slovenia. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bojana Žegura, head of the Department of Genetic Toxicology and Cancer Biology at the NIB and coordinator of the CutCancer project, described the goals of the project, emphasising how new advanced technologies will be developed in cooperation with research partners abroad. The event was organised and expertly moderated by Assist. Prof. Dr. Barbara Breznik, head of the Cancer Biology Research Unit at the NIB, summarising the main research activities and achievements of the research team.

Assist. Prof. Dr. Klementina Fon Tacer from Texas Tech University, USA, a renowned researcher in the field of reproductive biology and cancer research and Director of the Texas Center for Comparative Cancer Research (TC3R), with whom the NIB research team has been closely cooperating, in the opening lecture described cancer as an extremely heterogeneous disease, which complicates treatment. She emphasised that the dynamics of tumour heterogeneity is influenced by the environment, genetics, as well as the immune response and the therapy alone, resulting in greater therapeutic resistance. She underlined the importance of single-cell analysis and 3D in vitro tumour models as advanced methodologies that can increase the knowledge of cancer progression.   

The following participated in the discussion after the lecture: Prof. Dr. Maja Čemažar and Luka Dobovišek, MD, from the Institute of Oncology Ljubljana, Assist. Prof. Dr. Klementina Fon Tacer from Texas Tech University and Assist. Prof. Dr. Barbara Breznik, who also moderated the expert discussion

 Through the discussion, the audience was presented the challenges of cancer research and the need to connect all stakeholders in the field of cancer – from researchers, clinicians, the industry and patients. We must keep the patient in mind during cancer research, as it is known that there are many types of cancer, different from each other, and that science advances with targeted drugs and therapies, offering patients new possibilities. Prof. Dr. Maja Čemažar, research coordinator within the National Cancer Control Program, pointed out that the establishment of a “cancer research and therapy hub” was definitely in the EU’s interest and that all stakeholders, including patients, should be included.  

Prof. Dr. Maja Ravnikar, NIB Director, also emphasised that due to the research challenge, social relevance and high importance, the CutCancer project was ideal for the NIB to distinguish itself both through research results and new state-of-the-art research equipment at its disposal for such specific research. CutCancer is therefore important not only for the NIB, but also for Slovenian cancer researchers to establish themselves in the world, as during and after the project, synergies will develop between partner research institutions, twinning and collaboration will be encouraged, new technologies identified, and research and innovation processes developed.