D.Paech/Radiology
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MRI without contrast agents? Yes, with sugar!

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), in collaboration with colleagues from Heidelberg University Hospital, have been able to visualize brain cancer using a novel MRI method. They use a simple sugar solution instead of conventional contrast agents, which can have side effects in the body.

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How bile duct cancer develops and how it can be prevented

What promotes the development of bile duct cancer in the liver? Are these factors different from those that are responsible for the much more common hepatocellular carcinomas? Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have been the first to uncover the molecular and cellular causes that selectively lead to the development of bile duct cancer in mice. The researchers also discovered that antioxidants or an inhibitor of a specific key enzyme can be used to stop this cancer-promoting process.

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Mysterious gene transcripts after cancer therapy

Drugs that are used in cancer therapy to erase epigenetic alterations in cancer cells simultaneously promote the production of countless mysterious gene transcripts, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) now report in Nature Genetics. The substances activate hidden regulatory elements in DNA. The unusual gene activity has the potential to stimulate the immune system – a previously unnoticed effect that may increase the effect of therapeutic agents.

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Cancer prevention: Colonoscopy could save even more lives

Colonoscopy presumably prevented more than 25,000 deaths from colorectal cancer in Germany in the years 2008-2011, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) report. They also calculated that mortality from colorectal cancer in persons aged between 55 and 79 years could still drop by more than a third if all individuals in this age group made use of the screening program.

DKTK Essen/Düsseldorf

New findings support immunotherapy of skin cancer

Merkel cell carcinoma of the skin is often invisible for the body’s immune defense because it silences specific genes of the immune system. Scientists from the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) at the Medical Faculty of Duisburg Essen University at Essen University Hospital have found a way how to make the tumor a target for the immune system again. Thus, immunotherapeutic approaches in the treatment of skin cancer might become much more effective. In the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg joins up as a core center in long-term collaborations with partner university institutes and hospitals all over Germany that are specialized in research and treatment with a focus on oncology.

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Blocking cancer-specific mutations in leukemia and brain tumors

The substitution of a single amino acid in a metabolic enzyme can be the cause of various types of cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital, collaborating with Bayer AG, have now been able to develop a candidate for an agent that is intended to specifically block the altered enzyme. First studies in mice have demonstrated preclinical effects of this investigational compound.

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Macrophages control the development of nerves and blood vessels in the brain

Nerve cells and blood vessels have striking common features during their development. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have shown that macrophages control the growth and branching of nerves as well as blood vessels in the brain. A molecule called CD95 plays a key role in this process.

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Stop signal for dangerous immune responses

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have copied a trick that dying cells use to prevent an undesired immune response. They now plan to develop this biological principle into a therapy method that specifically blocks allergic reactions or autoimmune responses without suppressing the whole immune system. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) contributes funds of €1.3 million to this project.

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Defective intercellular connections cause hydrocephalus

A defective gene leads to changes in the cellular layer between cerebrospinal fluid and brain nervous tissue, thus causing a buildup of fluid in the brain. This link, which scientists from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have now discovered, is the first known mechanism underlying genetic hydrocephalus.

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