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.

New Career Planning Tool of DKFZ


CareerCheck is an internet-based career advice and career planning tool for young scientists at the German Cancer Research Center. It complements the existing career services such as guidance talks, trainings, Career Days and the internet platform dkfz-connect.

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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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Hidden messages in protein blueprints:

New mechanism for regulating the activity of stem cells discovered

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Heidelberg Institute of Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine (HI-STEM)* and the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg have identified a new control mechanism that enables stem cells to adapt their activity in emergency situations. For this purpose, the stem cells simultaneously modify the blueprints for hundreds of proteins encoded in the gene transcripts. In this way, they control the amount of protein produced and can also control the formation of certain proteinisoforms. If this mechanism is inactivated, stem cells lose their self-renewal potential and can no longer react adequately to danger signals or inflammation.

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Blockage of insulin absorption – the role of the blood vessels in insulin resistance

For insulin to take effect and glucose to be transported from the blood to the muscle cells, the hormone first has to cross the endothelium, the cell layer that lines the inside of the blood vessels. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center and from University Hospital Heidelberg and University medicine Mannheim have now established that a signaling pathway that prevents this step is stimulated in obese mice, hence promoting insulin resistance. The researchers have thus made a crucial contribution to enhancing our understanding of metabolic syndrome and the development of diabetes.

Remote medical image diagnosis

DKFZ spin-off provides app free of charge during corona crisis

The current crises caused by the fast spread of covid-19 is forcing clinics and its medical staff to take actions that otherwise would require months or years: Home office and the provision of mobile software solutions. mbits, a spin-off of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), has implemented mRay, a mobile communication platform for radiological images. Medical images are visualized and communicated fast and secure providing the staff with a digital remote solution. For the duration of the crisis, the company makes the software available to doctors and hospitals free of charge.


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DKFZ researchers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic

Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) are playing an active part in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and have set up a task force called fightCOVID@DKFZ. In collaboration with colleagues from university hospitals in Heidelberg and Mannheim, DKFZ researchers are developing tests to detect the virus, carrying out research to develop a vaccine, and investigating how the virus causes very severe symptoms in some of those infected.

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Interactions between cancer cells and fibroblasts promote metastasis

In order to colonize other organs and grow into metastases, tumor cells that detach from the parent tumor need to manipulate their new microenvironment and create a 'metastatic niche'. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center and the Heidelberg Institute for Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine* have now discovered that some cancer cells stimulate connective tissue cells in their environment to release transmitters that promote metastasis. This discovery plays a key role in better understanding how these dangerous metastases arise.

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Intestinal microbes reprogram genetic activity, thus controlling intestinal development and inflammation

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem demonstrated in mice that intestinal bacteria reprogram DNA activity in cells of the gut mucosa and thus have a considerable impact on the development of the healthy gut. Acute intestinal inflammation induced under experimental conditions led to a huge increase in the activity of inflammation-related and cancer-promoting genes in the mucous membrane cells of microbe-colonized animals.


€2.45 m to investigate leukaemia causes and therapies

The Heidelberg-based LeukoSyStem consortium investigates leukaemia stem cells in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research financially supports this collaboration between Heidelberg University Hospital, HI-STEM gGmbH, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).

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