Research Group GMP & T Cell Therapy

Prof. Dr. Stefan Eichmüller

Immunotherapy based treatment approaches against cancer have gained huge public interest, as novel therapeutic concepts, particularly those targeting “checkpoint inhibitors”, yielded impressive results in clinical trials. Such treatment regimens eventually enable T cells of the immune system to specifically eradicate tumor cells within the body.

The “GMP & T Cell Therapy Unit” focuses on T cell mediated tumor rejection, working out new concepts for clinical application.

The central tumor entities worked on by the Preclinical T Cell Unit (G183) are represented by malignant melanoma and breast cancer. Using murine or humanized animal models we investigate (a) the antigens and/or epitopes recognized by T cells, (b) analyze the biological functions exerted by various T cell subsets, and (c) determine inhibitory and/or stimulatory factors with impact on immunological tumor defense. We are aiming at the development of strategies endowing the autologous immune system with the capacity of comprehensive tumor cell eradication.

Malignant melanoma, in particular, is characterized by early metastasis formation and strong chemo-resistance. Here, we could identify miRNAs that turned out relevant for both, tumorigenicity and invasive behavior of melanoma cells. Currently, we are investigating the functional roles of miRNAs in melanoma cells during tumor defense.

The application of innovative immunotherapeutic treatment approaches against tumor diseases constitutes a major goal of tumor immunology oriented research programs located at Heidelberg. The GMP Unit Cellular Therapy (G182) has long-standing experience on the implementation of processing and preparation procedures for adoptive transfer of tumor –specific T cells and other cell based therapeutics, according to GMP-guidelines.

„GMP“ stands for „good manufacturing practice“, holding strict rules for the production of therapeutics according to the German Medicines Act. This means that (a) all preparative activities must strictly follow “standard operating procedures” (SOPs), (b) all equipment and materials used in the lab must be certificated, and (c) the work has to be performed under permanent monitoring in special (clean) laboratories with restricted access. Since June 2013 we hold official permission for the generation of ex vivo expanded T cell lines for adoptive transfer. The respective trial was approved by the Paul Ehrlich Institute in spring 2015.

Further information about our GMP activities is available on the German web site.


Prof. Dr. Stefan Eichmüller
GMP & T Cell Therapy (G182)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42 3380

Selected Publications

  • Weber CEM, Luo C, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Gardyan A, Kordaß T, Holland-Letz T, Osen W, and Eichmüller SB (2016) miR-339-3p is a tumor suppressor in melanoma. Cancer Res 76: 3562-3571.
  • Zörnig I, Halama N, Bermejo JL, Ziegelmeier C, Dickes E, Migdoll A, Kaiser I, Waterboer T, Pawlita M, Grabe N, Ugurel S, Schadendorf D, Falk C, Eichmüller SB*, and Jäger D* (2015) Prognostic significance of spontaneous antibody responses against tumor-associated antigens in malignant melanoma patients. Int J Cancer 136: 138-151.
  • Gardyan A*, Osen W*, Zörnig I, Podola L, Agarwal M, Aulmann S, Ruggiero E, Schmidt M, Halama N, Leuchs B, von Kalle C, Beckhove P, Schneeweiss A, Jäger D, and Eichmüller SB (2015) Identification of NY-BR-1-specific CD4+ T cell epitopes using HLA-transgenic mice. Int J Cancer 136: 2588-2597.
  • Luo C, Tetteh PW, Merz PR, Dickes E, Abukiwan A, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Holland-Cunz S, Sinnberg T, Schittek B, Schadendorf D, Diederichs S, and Eichmüller SB (2013) miR-137 inhibits the invasion of melanoma cells through downregulation of multiple oncogenic target genes. J Invest Dermatol 133: 768-775.
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