Using light to control the cell
Researchers from the University of Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have developed a new method that uses light to control processes in living cells. This system facilitates studies on the movement of proteins within cells and is of interest for both basic and applied research. The scientists have now published their results in the journal “Nature Communications.”
Joint press release of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the University of Heidelberg
Federal Health Minister Hermann Gröhe visits the German Cancer Research Center and the National Center for Tumor Diseases
This year, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg celebrates its 10th anniversary. On the occasion of this joint anniversary, Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe made a visit to both institutes in Heidelberg.
First positive results toward a therapeutic vaccine against brain cancer
Tumor vaccines might help the body fight cancer. A prerequisite to the development of such a vaccination is to find protein structures in cancer cells that differ from those of healthy cells. Such differences are often created by gene mutations in tumor cells, which lead to altered proteins that cells of the immune system can potentially recognize. Cancer researchers from Heidelberg have now been able to develop a mutation-specific vaccine targeting a protein that is mutated in brain cancer. In the journal “Nature”, the researchers report that the vaccine arrested tumor growth in mice.
Joint press release of the German Cancer Research Center and the Heidelberg University Hospital
Protein test instead of cystoscopy
A recent study from the Heidelberg-based company Sciomics, a spin-off from scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), has presented an advanced method to predict the recurrence of bladder cancer after surgery. The method, which can help avoid frequent cystoscopy examinations in a majority of patients, is based on an analysis of the protein composition of cancer tissue obtained during surgery. The test detects proteins relevant to cancer that are suspected to promote recurrence, thus facilitating a prognosis for the disease.
Cancer genes hijack enhancers
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of malignant brain tumor in children. Unlike most other forms of cancer, it exhibits very few mutations in growth-promoting genes. Thus the reasons for the aggressive growth behavior of medulloblastomas have been unclear. In collaboration with an international team of colleagues, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now made an important discovery about a particularly malignant subgroup of medulloblastomas: often the cancer-causing genes have not undergone alterations, but instead are transcribed at higher or lower levels than normal. This change is due to regulatory mechanisms in cells that were previously unknown. For example, one cancer-gene hijacks a so-called “enhancer”.
The researchers have published their results in two articles in Nature. German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) have provided funds for this work.
Towards individualized cancer medicine for each patient: Dietmar Hopp Foundation will support an initiative at the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg with €15 million
Comprehensive genome analyses of cancer cells have shown that each tumor and cancer patient are unique and need to be treated individually. To pave the way, by 2015 the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg aims to offer cancer patients at the NCT analyses of their individual cancer genomes to be used as the basis for personalized recommendations for treatment. This initiative from the DKFZ and NCT has been made possible by generous support from the Dietmar Hopp Foundation. The long-term goal is to facilitate the transition of research findings into applications and thus make individualized cancer treatment a part of standard clinical care. Leading technology companies including SAP, Molecular Health and GATC Biotech are collaborating in the project.
Joint Press Release of the Dietmar Hopp Foundation and the German Cancer Research Center
Blocking cancer stem cells in the brain prolongs survival in mice
In a study of malignant brain tumors in mice, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have identified a key molecule that is responsible for the dangerous properties of tumor stem cells. When this stem cell marker was switched off, cancerous mice survived longer. Switching off the marker in human brain tumor cells causes cancer stem cells to lose their capacity for self-renewal. Blocking the marker may therefore also slow down the growth of aggressive human brain cancers.
Exercise and heart disease: (Too) much does not help a lot
How much physical activity provides the best chances of preventing a new infarction or stroke in heart disease patients? Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have discovered that moderate exercise twice to four times a week yields the greatest benefit. Less than this, or no exercise at all, is associated with a significantly higher risk. However, patients should not do too much: The risk for patients who work out every day is higher than for those who are moderately active.
Competition among cells prevents cancer
T lymphocytes arise from the thymus gland, which plays an important role in the immune system. In this organ, immature progenitor cells originating in the bone marrow mature into immune system cells. The bone marrow constantly produces new progenitor cells that migrate into the thymus, where they replace older, "worn-out" progenitors. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have now discovered that this competition between older and younger cells seems to be essential for the prevention of cancer. In its absence, experimental mice developed leukemia. The researchers presented their results in the latest issue of Nature.
An “Achilles heel” of acute myeloid leukemia
Heidelberg cancer researchers have found a new target in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). A team of scientists headed by Prof. Dr. Stefan Fröhling from the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) has discovered that a specific subtype of this disease, which is particularly aggressive and difficult to treat, is strongly dependent on the activity of an enzyme that controls the cell cycle. Drugs that inhibit this enzyme are already being tested on patients with other types of cancer, so it might be possible to swiftly translate these findings into clinical applications.