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DKFZ-Junior scientist is awarded for vaccination against brain tumors

No. 42a | 13/10/2016 | by nis

For her work on the development of a vaccine against brain tumors, the Bayer Science & Education Foundation has awarded Dr. Theresa Bunse from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) the 'Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award' 2016. The molecular biologist works in the Clinical Cooperation Unit of Neuroimmunology and Brain Tumor Immunology, investigating how the immune system can help in the defense against rare brain tumors by specifically blocking the growth of brain tumor cells.

Theresa Bunse, Photo:private

In her doctoral thesis, Theresa Bunse developed a therapeutic vaccination against glioma, a rare and hitherto incurable form of brain tumor. The vaccination targets a protein (IDH1) that is often modified in tumor cells and thereby attacks the tumor specifically, without harming healthy cells. In animal experiments, the vaccine inhibited the growth of cancer cells in the characteristic IDH1 mutation. Theresa Bunse has already published her findings in high-ranking journals like Nature. Her results now form the basis of a clinical study which is to reveal how effective and safe this vaccine is for humans. In this study, Theresa Bunse is co-responsible for the immunological monitoring of the patients involved. She will examine blood samples to see whether the patients' immune system does in fact react to the vaccination by forming specific antibodies. In addition, she will continue her work on new immunological and vaccine-based therapies for glioma patients, "The hope that I might be able to offer a new treatment option to patients who are suffering from one of the most malignant brain tumors, is a major source of motivation" the young scientist explains.

The Bayer Foundation honors exceptional young scientists annually with the international "Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award". It is awarded by an independent jury of experts in the three categories biology, chemistry and medicine, each with prize money of 10,000 Euros.

With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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