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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.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are 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 all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Cancer Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

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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