Cell Death and Metabolism

“The ultimate goal of our research is to enlighten the mechanisms by which cancer cells escape cell death induced by cancer treatment and to find new ways to kill them.”

Professor Marja Jäättelä

The Cell Death and Metabolism Unit (CDM) was established in 2012 through a fusion of the former Apoptosis and Tumor Endocrinology Departments.

In our research, we have followed our original ideas on the existence of “"hidden"” cell death pathways in therapy-resistant cancer cells and we were among the first to show the existence of such pathways and their potential in treating therapy-resistant cancers.

Our work has not been limited to the molecular characterization of the alternative cell death pathways, but it has also lead to the identification new types of drug targets involving tumor cell lysosomes, lipid metabolism, autophagy pathways, and the DNA damage response as well as pharmaceutical compounds targeting these pathways.

Employing a broad array of modern molecular and cell biology techniques, our present research focuses on exploring the cancer-associated changes in the composition (proteins and lipids), trafficking and function of lysosomes and autophagosomes, cancer-relevant signalling pathways responsible for cross-communication between transformation, invasion, cell death and survival as well as mechanisms underlying resistance to current cancer therapies. So far, our research has led to one ongoing clinical trial in lysosomal storage disorders, and another one to be initiated shortly in the cancer field.

The unit’s technical know-how in cellular and molecular biology is at the top international level and novel methods are continuously adapted and developed, the most recent being ta state-of-the-art lipidomics facility. The laboratory participates actively in several international research networks and has numerous bilateral collaborations with leading laboratories in the fields of bioinformatics, epidemiology, proteomics, lipidomics, structural biology and vesicle trafficking as well as close contacts to the clinics.

In addition to the research itself, the education of students and postdoctoral fellows is among the top priorities of the unit. Presently, we have an international and enthusiastic staff of 29 persons.

The research in CDM is organized into five tightly interconnected research groups and the lipidomics core facility. In order to read more about the research achievements and goals of each group, please click the name of the group of interest below:

The Lysosome Group (Marja Jäättelä)
The Autophagy Group (Marja Jäättelä)
The Signaling Group (Tuula Kallunki)
The Membrane Integrity Group (Jesper Nylandsted)
Lipid-Protein Interactions Group (Kenji Maeda)
Lipidomics Core (Mesut Bilgin)

CDM on lab retreat, 2016