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Magicbullet :: Reloaded
Magicbullet :: Reloaded
Bielefeld, Germany

Magicbullet :: Reloaded

Marie-Sklodowska-Curie European Training Network Magicbullet :: Reloaded

Despite the continuing development of new and more efficient treatments, cancer remains the second cause of premature death worldwide. Currently used anticancer drugs are highly cytotoxic and therapies are often associated with multiple, severe side effects.  A medication that specifically targets cancer cells and delivers its active agent without harming surrounding healthy cells – this is the ambitious goal of Magicbullet::Reloaded. Prof. Dr. Norbert Sewald (Bielefeld University, DE) is coordinating the European Training Network with 15 partner organisations from academia and industry for the development of a “gentle” cancer treatment. The programme is supported by the European Union with over €3.9 million in funding for 4 years starting in November 2019.

Paul Ehrlich, the Nobel laureate in Physiology of 1908, had the early vision that a compound could be made to selectively target a disease-causing organism or a tumor. Such an ideal therapeutic agent would be a "magic bullet" that killed only the target cells. Magicbullet::Reloaded refers to Ehrlich’s bold idea and builds on the experience of the previous ETN Magicbullet (2015-2018).

The surface of tumor cells is often characterized by distinct abundance of specific receptors, enzymes, or cell-surface proteins that may qualify as target structures in directed therapy. The corresponding binding partners, e.g. small molecule ligands, peptide hormones or substrate analogues, can be covalently linked to cytotoxic drugs to yield drug-conjugates that recognize such tumor-associated target structures. As a result, the attached therapeutic agent is directed to cancer cells selectively. Due to this molecular address label, healthy cells will be less effected by the drug, thereby lowering side effects. Magicbullet::Reloaded will focus on peptide-drug conjugates and small molecule-drug conjugates with a special focus on drugs capable to stimulate immune responses against tumors and overcome resistance to immuno-therapy.

The Marie-Sklodowska-Curie European Training Network Magicbullet :: Reloaded will develop and employ approaches for selective, targeted delivery of a panel of anticancer drugs for directed tumor therapy. The activities of the consortium will be devoted to four different project areas:

  • Small molecule-drug conjugates (SMDCs) and peptide-drug conjugates (PDCs)
  • Multivalency and crosstalk with the immune system
  • Pharmacokinetics: Transport, drug release, and metabolism
  • Biological evaluation of the conjugates


This project has received funding from the European Union′s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 861316.

The Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) Magicbullet::Reloaded offers 15 three-years fixed-term PhD positions

The ETN Magicbullet::Reloaded will provide young researchers a unique portfolio of multidisciplinary competences, cutting-edge proficiencies and transferable soft skills to push the boundaries of frontier research within the EU. The ESRs will be involved in all stages of drug development, ranging from Synthetic Chemistry over Medicinal Chemistry to Tumor Biology and Assay Development in a highly cross-linked, inter-sectoral research network between academia and industry. This network warrants cutting-edge interdisciplinary education, supplemented by a well-balanced and tailor-made training in transferable soft skills, directly focussed on the demands and needs of each individual researcher.

The consortium consists of Prof. Dr. Norbert Sewald, Bielefeld University, DE (coordinator) | Prof. Dr. Gábor Mezõ, Eötvös Loránd University, HU | Prof. Dr. Dario Neri, ETH Zürich, CH | Dr. Christian Steinkühler, Exiris SRL, IT | Dr. Katherina Sewald, Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, DE | Prof. Dr. Andreas Pahl, Heidelberg Pharma Research GmbH, DE | Dr. József Tóvári, National Institute of Oncology, HU | Dr. Samuele Cazzamalli, Philochem AG, CH | Dr. Giuseppe Roscilli, Takis Biotech SRL, IT | Prof. Dr. Harald Kolmar, Technical University Darmstadt, DE | Prof. Dr. Umberto Piarulli, Universitá degli Studi dell´ Insubria, IT | Prof. Dr. Cesare Gennari, Universitá degli Studi di Milano, IT | Prof. Dr. Ines Neundorf, University of Cologne, DE | Prof. Dr. Pirjo Laakkonen, University of Helsinki, FI | Prof. Dr. Matthias Trost, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. The ETN is supported by three associate partners from the industrial sector: Dr. Hans-Georg Lerchen & Dr. Lisa Dietz (Bayer Pharma, DE), Dr. Daniela Modena (Italfarmaco, IT) and Attila Kigyós (Kineto Lab, HU).

The ETN will recruit 15 highly talented early stage researchers (ESR) with background in the relevant scientific areas. This high complementarity is required for the different scientific tasks in the development pipeline. Vice versa, the ESRs will be exposed to a challenging research environment leading to a broad range of scientific competences to be acquired.