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Jan Pencik wins Nature Poster Prize

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Jan Pencik, a postdoc from MedUni Vienna's Department of Pathology & at the Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine (CBmed) was awarded the Nature Poster Prize at the EACR (European Association of Cancer Research) Conference on Cancer Metabolism in Bilbao.

Jan Pencik presented his study entitled "STAT3 and LKB1 cooperate to suppress mTORC1-dependent cancer metabolic reprogramming" at the "Mechanisms to Therapies: Innovations in Cancer Metabolism" conference.

Tumor recurrence in metastatic diseases and therapy resistance arise from metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells functionally driven by the activation of oncogenes or the loss of tumor suppressor genes. Drug resistance induce by an altered metabolism in cancer limits the clinical efficacy of targeted therapy that is not yet well understood. Metformin is currently the most widely used glucose-reducing drug prescribed to millions of people worldwide and also frequently to diabetic prostate cancer (PCa) patients. Metformin exerts antineoplastic effects against breast and lung cancer by increased phosphorylation and activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), leading to the inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTORC1). However, recent studies have questioned the anti-cancer dosing strategies and proposed mechanism by which metformin effects cancer progression via AMPK-mTOR signaling. Although metformin is a well-established regulator of the AMPK-mTOR signaling, its regulation of cancer cell metabolism in AMPK-independent manner is not well defined. STAT3, which is frequently dysregulated in PCa, has been reported to influence AMPK-mTOR-independent signaling. To elucidate the role of STAT3-AMPK in PCa, we exploit a Pten-deficient PCa model to define the impact of AMPK-mTOR signaling in PI3K-induced oncogenic transformation. An improved understanding of the role of the STAT3-AMPK pathway will be important for the definition and refinement of new therapeutic avenues.

About Jan Pencik
Jan Pencik studied biochemistry in Olomouc and Brno (Czech Republic) from 2005 to 2009. He was visiting researcher at the University of Stuttgart (Germany) before starting his doctoral thesis under Lukas Kenner at the LBI-CR in Vienna in 2010. Since completing his PhD, he has been working as a postdoc in Lukas Kenner's working group at MedUni Vienna's Department of Pathology and at the Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine (CBmed). The study was produced under the supervision of Lukas Kenner and Brigitte Hantusch as part of joint project with the Division of Nuclear Medicine and the Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine (CBmed GmbH, Jan Pencik has already won several national and international prizes for his research. Since completing his PhD course, he has been working as a postdoc in Lukas Kenner's working group. From January 2019 he will move for a new position at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California, USA.