Behrendt Group

The group has its focus on the mechanisms of cellular invasion and on novel means of cancer treatment, developed through the targeting of cellular components involved in cancer invasion. In particular, we study the processes of extracellular matrix degradation through proteolytic and endocytic mechanisms and the utilization of the responsible molecular components for targeted drug delivery.

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The group is part of the Cancer Invasion section at the Finsen Laboratory.

Research focus

The work includes multidisciplinary studies on the protein structure, cellular function and pathophysiological role of collagen receptors and collagenolytic proteases with importance for cancer invasion, as well as translational research on drug development based on these studies. The proteins particularly in focus are uPARAP/Endo180 and other endocytic receptors for extracellular matrix proteins, as well as membrane type matrix metalloproteases (MT-MMPs). We work to clarify the biological function of these proteins, to develop novel therapeutics directed against them and to demonstrate the effect of those in mouse cancer model systems. 

Key results

Our key findings have been the discovery of the endocytic collagen receptor uPARAP/Endo180, the demonstration of the importance of this receptor in matrix and tissue turnover during several normal physiological and pathological events and the preclinical development of a therapeutic strategy against uPARAP/Endo180-positive cancers.

Group leader: Niels Behrendt 

With an educational background in protein chemistry, Niels Behrendt has performed extensive studies on the structure and molecular function of a number of matrix degrading enzymes and cellular receptors. The current work includes studies on the role of these components in health and disease, as well as translational research on targeted drug delivery through the same group of proteins. The studies comprise several levels from basic protein chemistry and molecular biology to animal cancer models and the development of prototype cancer drugs.

Research projects

  • Creation of antibody-drug conjugates against cancer-expressed receptors and proof-of-concept studies with these model drugs in vitro and in vivo.

  • Interfering with matrix degradation in vivo in mouse cancer models, using gene manipulation as well as functional blocking. 

  • Elucidation of the composite action of proteolysis and endocytic matrix breakdown in the processes of tissue remodeling and cancer invasion.

  • Novel roles of endocytic collagen receptors.

Research grants (last 5 years)

  • 3-year grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, granted for 2020-2022, DKK 2,761,500. 

  • 2-year grant from the Danish Cancer Society, granted for 2020-2021, DKK 1,600,000.

  • Grant from the “Fonden til Fremme af Eksperimentel cancerforskning”, 2018, DKK 300,000.

  • 3-year grant from the Danish Capital Region, granted for 2017-2019, DKK 1,168,868.

  • 2-year grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Novo Seeds), granted for 2017-2018, DKK 3,500,000.

  • 2-year grant from the Danish Cancer Society, granted for 2017-2018, DKK 1,400,000.

  • 1-year grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Novo Seeds), granted for 2016, DKK 500,000.

  • Grant from the “Fonden til Fremme af Eksperimentel cancerforskning”, 2016, DKK 100,000.

  • 1-year grant from the Danish Cancer Society, granted for 2015, DKK 351,161.

  • 3-year grant from the Danish Medical Research Council, granted for 2014-2017, DKK 2,568,960.



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