One of the main areas of Dr. Simicek´s research is the development of cell therapy for the treatment of hematopoietic malignancies such as multiple myeloma or acute myeloid leukemia. Cell-based therapy is a completely new and extremely effective approach in the fight against cancer. In principle, it resembles the natural settings of the human immune system. Firstly, special types of immune cells called T-lymfocytes or NK-cells are obtained from the blood of cancer patients or, in the future, any healthy donor. Using modern tools of gene engineering including CRISPR-Cas9 these cells are genetically modified and equipped with an unique set of receptors that help them to recognize and eliminate the tumour in a targeted way. To ensure the safety of the system, the cells further contain a controllable suicide gene. If they start attacking healthy tissue instead of the tumour, clinicians can simply turn this self-killer gene on and thus remove the modified cells from the patient’s body.
The short term goal of Michal Simicek's team is to reduce the cost of treatment, which is extremely high because completely new cells must be prepared for each patient. Dr. Simicek wants to create universal cells that could be taken from any donor, modified, expanded, cryopreserved and left “on the shelf” for future use in many cancer patients. Additionally, the team is working on further improvement of the cell therapy to make it more versatile and useful for targeting other malignancies. Future research will be focused on the development of cell-based “cancer vaccines” that could be provided for people with high risk of developing cancer based on their genetic predispositions.
Dr. Michal Šimíček, Ph.D. was awarded the Neuron prize in the field of medicine in 2019. He achieved his success in biomedical research by examining the processes causing malignant diseases and their resistance to drugs and became a member of an elite group of Czech scientists.
Following his studies he worked in Leuven (Belgium), London and Cambridge but then decided to return to Moravia where he launched a first-rate scientific centre in the Department of Haematooncology at the University Hospital in Ostrava. He and his team develop unique technologies of cell therapy for various types of cancer. In collaboration with the biomedical centre of Primecell Bioscience, he launched the production of his own cell therapy preparations, and University Hospital Ostrava became an important international centre for the treatment of oncological diseases such as leukaemia and multiple myeloma.
Dr. Michael Londesborough, Ph.D. is a British scientist working at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, where he focuses on research into boron compounds. He has won three prizes for Czech / Slovak young inorganic chemists, collaborates on projects with the British Council in Prague and on popularization projects for the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Czech Television and the National Technical Museum. He focuses on making science accessible to the general public, teaching young people, and strengthening international relations between young scientists (FameLab competition). In 2009 the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic awarded him the Vojtěch Náprstek Medal for popularizing science.