German-Israeli exchange in science management
For over 25 years, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University have been maintaining a consistent and intensive exchange with Israeli scientific research institutes. Every two years, administrative representatives from various Israeli universities and the Weizmann Institute meet with representatives of Heidelberg University and the DKFZ at a conference held alternately between Israel and Heidelberg. This year, the DKFZ and Heidelberg University will be hosting the 15th Israeli-German Administrators’ Conference (IGAC) on March 16-19. Over 60 participants will be in attendance.
Deadly to cancer cells only: A molecular cause for selective effectiveness of parvovirus therapy discovered
Parvoviruses can destroy cancer cells and are currently being tested in a preliminary clinical trial to treat malignant brain cancer. For their replication, the viruses need a particular enzyme in the cell. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now discovered that in healthy human cells, parvoviruses are unable to activate this enzyme. In many cases of malignant brain cancer, however, the enzyme is permanently active. As a result, this enables the viruses to replicate and to destroy the cancer cells. It accounts not only for the viruses' natural selectivity for cancer cells but also helps identify cancer patients who might benefit from parvovirus therapy.
A new tool for detecting and destroying norovirus
Norovirus infection is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis, or “stomach flu.” A research team at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) recently produced “nanobodies” that could be used to better characterize the structural makeup of the virus. They discovered that these nanobodies could detect the virus in clinical stool samples and disassemble intact norovirus particles. Such nanobodies may potentially be used to not only better detect but also treat symptoms of norovirus infection in the clinic.
Genome Analysis of Cancer Cells: Germany’s Biggest Sequencing Unit Established in Heidelberg
Thorough examination of the genome of cancer cells is essential for a better understanding of the disease and to improve treatment. Therefore, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), with the support of the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), will invest in the Illumina HiSeq X Ten Sequencing System, the world’s first and only platform to deliver full coverage human whole genome for less than 1000 Euros per genome with the power to sequence more than 18,000 genomes per year. With the ten DNA sequencers, scientists will be able to identify all cancer-linked genetic variations in the shortest possible time. This purchase marks the first example of a research platform operated within the context of DKTK and DKFZ in Germany.
European Research Council supports two more DKFZ researchers
The European Research Council (ERC) awards “Consolidator Grants” to support excellent young researchers at the stage when they are launching their own independent science career. Two junior research group leaders from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now received the prestigious grants: Markus Feuerer is studying how special T cells prevent an immune response against tumors. Hai-Kun Liu is investigating why brain tumors are composed of a variety of cells, with the goal of finding better treatment methods.
Stellate cells in the liver control regeneration and fibrosis
Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Medical Faculty in Mannheim at Heidelberg University are searching for new approaches to prevent liver fibrosis. They have identified a surface molecule on special liver cells called stellate cells as a potential target for interfering with this process. When the researchers turned off the receptor, this led to reduced liver fibrosis and improved regeneration of hepatic cells.
New test to predict the effectiveness of cancer vaccines
Many therapeutic cancer vaccines that are currently being developed are designed to direct the immune system against altered cancer-cell proteins. However, these vaccines can only be effective if the tumor cells present the altered protein to the immune system in a perfectly matching shape. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital have now described a test to predict whether this prerequisite for effective tumor vaccination is fulfilled.
A good night’s sleep keeps your stem cells young
As we age, the stem cells in all tissues of our body are depleted or fail to function efficiently. This is what drives the age-associated decline in tissue function and the onset of age-related diseases such as cancer. The loss of stem cells is thought to be predominantly driven by accumulative damage to the DNA of stem cells. However, the source of this DNA damage in stem cells has previously been unclear. In a study just published in the journal Nature, scientists at the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) Heidelberg and at the Institute for Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine (HI-STEM gGmbH) have uncovered that environmental stress is a major factor in driving DNA damage in adult hematopoietic stem cells. Repeated exposure to such stress causes accelerated tissue aging and probably cancer.
Annual Reception at the DKFZ
On Thursday, February 12, 2015, the Management Board of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) invited friends and supporters from politics, industry and science, as well as employees, to its Annual Reception. About 400 invited guests enjoyed an inspiring evening accompanied by music performed by the Karlsruhe Grand Celli Quartet. The highlight of the evening was a speech by Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Real-time, live assessment of blood formation
In the bone marrow, blood stem cells give rise to a large variety of mature blood cells via progenitor cells at various stages of maturation. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have developed a way to equip mouse blood stem cells with a fluorescent marker that can be switched on from the outside. Using this tool, they were able to observe, for the first time, how stem cells mature into blood cells under normal conditions in a living organism. With these data, they developed a mathematical model of the dynamics of hematopoiesis. The researchers have now reported in the journal Nature that the normal process of blood formation differs from what scientists had previously assumed when using data from stem cell transplantations.