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Molecular Therapy of Virus-Associated Cancers

Research Group Molecular Therapy of Virus-Associated Cancers

Prof. Dr. Felix Hoppe-Seyler

Specific types of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) cause major human cancers, including cervical cancer and certain forms of head and neck cancers. As overall aims of our work, we hope to improve our current concepts of HPV-induced carcinogenesis and to uncover novel treatment options.

In this context, we are focusing on three major scientific aspects:

  1. Hypoxia (low oxygen concentrations) in the cancer tissue is an important negative prognostic factor for tumor patients in the clinic. We are analyzing the effects of two major types of hypoxia, chronic and cycling hypoxia, on the virus/host interactions in HPV-positive cancer cells. In addition, we explore the effects of both hypoxia forms on the malignant growth and the therapeutic response of HPV-positive cancer cells.
  2. Although the HPV E6/E7 oncogenes are essential for HPV-induced carcinogenesis, they are not sufficient. This indicates that other genetic events are required for malignant cell transformation, which may be linked, or not, to the viral oncogenes. We thus aim to identify cellular factors which are decisive for the malignant phenotype of HPV-positive cancer cells. Their characterization may also enable the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
  3. Tumor cells are distinguished from normal cells by specific metabolic alterations. This could constitute an “Achilles’ heel” of cancer cells and could allow to target them therapeutically. In this context, we are investigating the anti-diabetic drug Metformin and the anti-fungal agent Ciclopirox, studying their effects on the HPV oncogenes and on the malignant phenotype of HPV-positive cancer cells.

For details see: Research


Prof. Dr. Felix Hoppe-Seyler
Molecular Therapy of Virus-Associated Cancers (D365)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42 4872

Selected Publications

  • Yang, D, Strobel TD, Bulkescher J, Tessmer C, Hofmann I, Hoppe-Seyler F, Hoppe-Seyler K (2022). FAM57A (Family with Sequence Similarity 57 Member A) Is a Cell-Density-Regulated Protein and Promotes the Proliferation and Migration of Cervical Cancer Cells. Cells, 11: 3309.
  • Frensemeier K, Holzer A, Hoppe-Seyler, K, Hoppe-Seyler F (2022). Dickkopf-1 (Dkk1) expression is repressed by oncogenic HPVs and regulates the Cisplatin sensitivity of HPV-positive cancer cells in a JNK-dependent manner. Int. J. Cancer, 151: 2215-2228.
  • Bossler F, Kuhn BF, Günther T, Kraemer SJ, Khalkar P, Adrian S, Lohrey C, Holzer A, Shimobayashi M, Dürst M, Mayer A, Rösl F, Grundhoff A, Krijgsveld J, Hoppe-Seyler K, Hoppe-Seyler F (2019). Repression of Human Papillomavirus Oncogene Expression under Hypoxia is Mediated by PI3K/mTORC2/AKT Signaling. mBIO, 10: e02323-18.
  • Hoppe-Seyler K, Bossler B, Lohrey C, Bulkescher J, Rösl F , Jansen L, Mayer A, Vaupel P, Dürst M, Hoppe-Seyler F. (2017). Induction of dormancy in hypoxic human papillomavirus-positive cancer cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 114: E990-E998.
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