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Thomas Grunt receives Asclepius Award

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(Vienna, 14 November 2019) Thomas Grunt, Department of Medicine I, MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital and coordinator of the "Cell Signaling and Metabolism" research cluster of the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, was presented with the Asclepius Award for his recent study. He led a study that described the mechanisms that trigger the death of cancer cells in ovarian cancer following chemical inhibition of fatty acid synthesis.

The University of Vienna and the Complutense University of Madrid worked with MedUni Vienna on this study, which was intended to bridge the gap between basic research and clinical  application. Grunt was presented with the award at the 24th World Congress on Advances in Oncology & International Symposium on Molecular Medicine in Sparta, Greece.

In the award-winning study, Thomas Grunt and his team investigated fatty acid metabolism and, in particular, fatty acid synthase (FASN). This metabolic enzyme plays a key role in the production of fatty acids in the cell.

Lipid deficiency leads to cell death
It was already known that blockading FASN leads to derailment of cell metabolism and hence to the death of cancer cells. However, since the use of FASN inhibitors results in a number of cell-biological processes, it was not clear which of these is responsible for causing cancer cells to die off. Says Grunt: "Blockading the enzyme causes the entire cell metabolism to collapse. We were able to show that it is not this disruption to metabolism but the lack of building materials for cell membrane lipids that leads to the destruction of cancer cells."

About Thomas Grunt
Thomas Grunt is a cell biologist and has worked as a cancer researcher at MedUni Vienna since 1987. In 1994, he took over as head of the Laboratory for Cell Growth and Differentiation at the Division of Oncology within MedUni Vienna’s Department of Medicine I. In 1995, he gained his postdoctoral qualification in the field of experimental oncology and cell biology. Since 2010, he has been coordinator of the "Cell Signaling and Metabolism" cluster at the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital. In addition to this, Thomas Grunt has won numerous awards, is a member of prominent international expert associations and has authored numerous publications and reviews in leading medical journals.

About the Asclepius Award
The Asclepius Award is presented every year at the World Congress on Advances in Oncology & International Symposium on Molecular Medicine in recognition of the best presentations of the event. The congress is organised by Spandidos Publications, which also gives the award.

Comprehensive Cancer Center Vienna
The Comprehensive Cancer Centre (CCC) Vienna belonging to MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital provides a network for all professionals from these two institutions who treat cancer patients, conduct cancer research and are active in teaching and education in this field. (www.ccc.ac.at).