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Breast cancer: How advanced imaging technologies will help avoid unnecessary biopsies

Enhancing the diagnosis of breast cancer is the stated goal of a research team at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. The scientists have combined an advanced method of diffusion-weighted MR imaging with intelligent image analysis methods to detect malignant changes in tissues. This method may help avoid many control biopsies following suspicious findings from mammography screening, the scientists have now demonstrated in a study that was supported by the Dietmar Hopp Foundation. This advancement holds promise for substantial improvements in the diagnosis of breast cancer.

ERC Consolidator Grant

European excellence grant for DKFZ researcher

The ERC Consolidator Grants by the European Research Council (ERC) support excellent researchers to help them consolidate their independent career. Ana Martin-Villalba from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) has now received this prestigious ERC grant. Martin-Villalba will use the €2 million grant to investigate how repair processes can be stimulated in the adult brain following injury or disease. Martin-Villalba plans to specifically activate the development potential of stem cells in the brain to replace lost brain cells.

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“Lightning protectors” protect cells from oxidative damage

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have been able to unravel how acetylcysteine, a well-known agent used as a cough medication, can protect cells from oxidative stress. In the cell, the substance is rapidly transformed into so-called persulfides. These sulfur compounds unfold their protective effect on the cell by diverting oxidation very efficiently towards themselves, similar to a lightning protector.

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A clonal crayfish from nature as a model for tumors

A genome study has proven that all specimen of Marmorkrebs, or marbled crayfish, originate from a single female. About 30 years ago, the original clone evolved in an aquarium. Ever since, the female animals have been able to spread successfully and massively without any help from males, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) report in a current publication. The clonal genome evolution of the crayfish may also help explain processes in tumors.


Marieke Essers receives Chica and Heinz Schaller Award

The Chica and Heinz Schaller Foundation is honouring two excellent young researchers in the research city of Heidelberg with a highly endowed award for their work in the field of basic biomedical research. Marieke Essers of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Theodore Alexandrov from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) will each receive 100,000 euros.

DKTK Munich

Pancreatic cancer: Gene duplication explains tumor aggressiveness

Pancreatic cancer is a form of cancer associated with the highest mortality rates in the world. However, until now genetic changes that could explain the aggressiveness and early metastasis of this form of cancer had not been found. A team of researchers at the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now shown that those characteristics can be explained by specific gene amplifications which occur along various evolutionary pathways of the cancer. Based on this discovery, they have derived basic principles underlying the biology of this cancer type.


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Hopp Children’s Cancer Center (KiTZ)

Kristian Pajtler received $100,000 award for brain cancer research

Kristian Pajtler, a pediatric oncologist from the "Hopp Children's Cancer Center at the NCT Heidelberg" (KiTZ), received the 2018 CERN Scientific Fellowship Award with a monetary prize of 100,000 US dollars. Pajtler has been awarded the distinction for his work on ependymoma, a rare type of brain cancer.

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A weak heart due to metabolic change

The heart derives its energy primarily from fatty acids. However, if a metabolic shift to other energy sources takes place, this can result in congestive heart failure, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital have now discovered. This underscores the role of metabolism in heart failure. In addition, these findings are relevant for the use of certain anticancer drugs.

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Starving Tumors: New Target Discovered

Actively growing tumors have a high demand for oxygen and nutrients. Therefore, they stimulate the growth of blood vessels. This process is called angiogenesis. If tumor-associated angiogenesis is suppressed, this may limit tumor growth. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center and the European Center for Angioscience at Heidelberg University have now discovered a new target for anti-angiogenic tumor therapy. They show that the deletion of a signaling molecule in mice leads to the formation of less blood vessels in late-stage tumors. This delays their growth and limits the formation of metastases.

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