Press and Public Relations

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.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany. At DKFZ, more than 1,000 scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and endeavor to find new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer. They develop novel approaches to make tumor diagnosis more precise and treatment of cancer patients more successful. The staff of the Cancer Information Service (KID) offers information about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public. Jointly with Heidelberg University Hospital, DKFZ has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, where promising approaches from cancer research are translated into the clinic. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of six German Centers for Health Research, DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partnering sites. Combining excellent university hospitals with high-profile research at a Helmholtz Center is an important contribution to improving the chances of cancer patients. DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, with ninety percent of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining ten percent from the State of Baden-Württemberg.

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