SciLifeLab researcher receives ERC starting grant

Kasper Karlsson, a researcher at SciLifeLab and an assistant professor at the Karolinska Institutet, has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant for his project titled “Precision Lethality to Overcome Clonal Heterogeneity in High-risk Neuroblastoma.” This initiative seeks to understand the varied responses of different cancer cell populations to drug treatments.

The European Research Council (ERC), the EU’s main research funding agency, announced on Sept. 5 that it would allocate EUR 628 million in Starting Grants to support 400 young research leaders. About 14.8 percent of the applications were approved.

About ERC Starting Grant

The ERC Starting Grants are designed to bolster emerging research leaders who are in the process of forming their research groups and setting a distinct research trajectory. The grants can amount to up to 1.5 million euros, spanning over five years. The application deadline for the next funding call is Oct. 24.

There is a noteworthy trend of ERC grants awarded to researchers associated with SciLifeLab, and Kasper Karlsson’s award continues this legacy.

“I have been thinking about new ways to combine drugs that take tumor heterogeneity into account for more than a decade now. I am very grateful to ERC for giving me the chance to rigorously put these ideas into practice,” says Kasper.

Precision Lethality

Tumors are diverse. They consist of mixtures of cells that continuously evolve and adapt to their local microenvironments. This diversity means a combination of drugs is often needed to treat them effectively.

The research focuses on studying how different populations of cancer cells respond to drugs. By tagging individual cells in pediatric cancer models with unique barcodes, it’s possible to track how cells evolve, and how resistant to a particular drug each cell population is. Using this strategy, the researchers will identify cells resistant to standard-of-care treatment and look for alternative drugs to target and eliminate those resistant cells.

Through research using cell barcodes, it’s been observed that certain rare groups of cells can grow and become dominant over time across replicate cultures. The findings suggest that there’s a pattern in how these cells evolve and expand that can be understood and predicted. Recognizing these patterns could pave the way for early detection of aggressive tumors and lead to improved treatment methods.


Last updated: 2023-09-05

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