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A growth factor for blood vessels as a protective factor for metastatic tumor cells

In cancer patients with solid tumors, metastasis – the dissemination of cells from the primary tumor – is the most common cause of death. This is particularly true in the case of malignant melanoma. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the University of Heidelberg's Medical Faculty Mannheim have examined tumor samples from patients and have discovered a potential new target for therapy and have discovered a potential new target for treatment, at least in a special group of melanoma patients whose tumor cells produce the growth factor angiopoietin-2. The production of the growth factor in cancer cells was particularly evident in those melanomas that formed metastases. In further investigations in mice, the researchers demonstrated that tumor cells that produce angiopoietin-2 are protected against cell stress and thus have an advantage in metastasis.

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Biosafety at the DKFZ

Daily work routine of our more than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ for the most part takes place in laboratories with different safety levels. Biological safety levels (at DKFZ: BSL1-BSL3) are based on the risk classification of the biological (or biomedical) work carried out. Each laboratory is designed around the safety level of its research, including the laboratory equipment, the specific working practices, and the typical protective equipment worn.

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Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and major diseases at the same time: A balancing act for biomedical scientists

Researchers, politicians and funding bodies find themselves in front of a unique situation and enormous challenge: The mounting pressure to accelerate and intensify efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic while handling the growing threat from all other diseases endangering our society. This balancing and how well the scientific community will respond to it will define health across the globe for years to come, argue scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München and Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) in the latest issue of the leading journal Cell. In their commentary, the researchers discuss how to strike a good balance between maintaining and redefining research priorities.

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ERC Grants

European funding for two research projects with application potential

With its "Proof of Concept" grants, the European Research Council ERC supports scientists to further develop the economic potential of their research results. Two scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Mathias Heikenwälder and Nina Papavasiliou, are now receiving the coveted funding. Both researchers want to advance the development of antibodies: as research reagents and for cancer prevention.


Using mini colons to detect functional differences and weaknesses of colorectal cancer

One of the main features of colorectal cancer is that there are considerable differences between the tumors of individual patients - at genetic level and hence in terms of the response to treatment too. Researchers from the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) have developed a method that allows these differences to be identified more effectively. They use mini colons grown in the laboratory for their studies that allow them to work under conditions that are as similar as possible to those found in patients. The scientists perform a large number of parallel experiments on these "organoids", which improves the comparability of the results.

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Test for better prevention of cervical cancer receives FDA approval

Women infected with high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) have a high risk of developing cervical cancer. A test can help doctors to better assess this risk and identify those women who should be referred immediately for further diagnostic investigation. The test has now been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will soon be widely available to doctors and patients. The test was developed by mtm Laboratories AG, a spin-off from the German Cancer Research Center and the University Hospital in Heidelberg, which was acquired by Roche in 2011.


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Latest News

Preventing metastasis - an antibody with therapeutic potential

A receptor in the cell layer that lines the blood vessels from the inside stimulates both the formation of new blood vessels in tumors and metastasis. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg (DKFZ) and the Mannheim Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg have succeeded in blocking this receptor with an antibody to thus prevent the growth of metastases in mice with breast or lung cancer. In animal experiments, they have thus shown a new principle for slowing down the metastatic dissemination of cancer cells.

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Corona Pandemic: Leading European cancer centers share knowledge and experience in the care of cancer patients

Cancer patients are particularly at risk for infections because of their disease and its treatment. Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Europe, cancer centers within a short period were faced with the challenge of minimizing the risk of infection for these patients while at the same time not compromising the provision of the necessary treatments. Seven leading European cancer centers that are part of the Cancer Core Europe (CCE) network, including the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) together with the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, published their experiences and measures taken in the course of the corona pandemic.

Brain tumors in children

Hereditary genetic defect destabilizes protein regulation

The causes of 40 percent of all cases of certain medulloblastoma – dangerous brain tumors affecting children – are hereditary. These are the findings of a recent genetic analysis carried out by scientists from the Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and numerous colleagues around the world, which have just been published in the scientific journal Nature. A genetic defect that occurs in 15 percent of these children plays a key role by destabilizing the production and breakdown of proteins. The researchers suspect that protein metabolism defects could be a previously underestimated cause of other types of cancer.

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What determines the identity of cells

Scientists from the Hector Institute for Translational Brain Research and Stanford University showed in mice how so-called pioneer factors determine the identity of nerve and muscle cells. During embryonic development, these factors ensure that the various body cells can form. In laboratory experiments, pioneer factors can even be used to transform cell types, for example skin cells into nerve cells. This allows scientists to obtain specific cell types for their research.

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