Cookie Settings

We use cookies to optimize our website. These include cookies that are necessary for the operation of the site, as well as those that are only used for anonymous statistic. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Further information can be found in our data privacy protection .


These cookies are necessary to run the core functionalities of this website and cannot be disabled.

Name Webedition CMS
Purpose This cookie is required by the CMS (Content Management System) Webedition for the system to function correctly. Typically, this cookie is deleted when the browser is closed.
Name econda
Purpose Session cookie emos_jcsid for the web analysis software econda. This runs in the “anonymized measurement” mode. There is no personal reference. As soon as the user leaves the site, tracking is ended and all data in the browser are automatically deleted.

These cookies help us understand how visitors interact with our website by collecting and analyzing information anonymously. Depending on the tool, one or more cookies are set by the provider.

Name econda
Purpose Statistics
External media

Content from external media platforms is blocked by default. If cookies from external media are accepted, access to this content no longer requires manual consent.

Name YouTube
Purpose Show YouTube content
Name Twitter
Purpose activate Twitter Feeds

Stop signal for dangerous immune responses

No. 27c | 18/05/2017 | by Koh

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have copied a trick that dying cells use to prevent an undesired immune response. They now plan to develop this biological principle into a therapy method that specifically blocks allergic reactions or autoimmune responses without suppressing the whole immune system. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) contributes funds of €1.3 million to this project.

Molecular model of Annexin
© Lijealso, Wikimedia Commons

Why is it that cells that are dying from programmed cell death, or apoptosis, do not trigger a strong immune response in the body? After all, dying cells emit a host of proteins that one would normally expect to activate the immune system. Heiko Weyd from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in Heidelberg already unraveled this biological mystery several years ago: When inducing the process of apoptosis, cells rapidly transport a protein called annexin to their surface. It acts like a stop signal for specific immune cells, thereby preventing the immune system from launching a response.

DKFZ researchers Heiko Weyd and Peter Krammer now plan to utilize this highly efficient immune blockade to suppress undesired immune responses, which are the cause, for example, of allergies and potentially life-threatening autoimmune diseases.

The researchers' plan is to fuse the effective part of annexin directly to allergens (such as birch pollen) or autoantigens (such as insulin in type 1 diabetes) and to attach this construct to microparticles that will be administered to the patient. "The idea is to block an undesired immune response against the allergen or autoantigen very specifically – while not suppressing the whole immune system," said DKFZ immunologist Krammer. In experiments with immune cells in the Petri dish, the researchers have already been able to show that this is a functioning active principle.

The investigators have given their project the name of "Therannex", which refers to the envisioned therapeutic use of annexin. The process of developing this captivating principle into a therapy method will be a long one and, above all, it will involve high costs. This is where the VIP+ (Validation of the technological and social innovation potential of scientific research) funding program by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) comes in. It invites scientists to take the first step towards economic utilization of their findings outside the world of research. The VIP+ initiative helps scientists examine and prove potential applications and the innovation potential of their research results. If they are successful, there will be a better chance for them to find an industrial partner for developing a marketable product.

"The project is interesting for investors, but we have only reached the middle of the development process," Weyd said. "The BMBF funding will help us over the next three years to conduct most of the preclinical testing. This will enable us to better assess chances for success and tolerability." Should the outcomes of the upcoming examination series be positive, the DKFZ researchers plan to found a spin-off company, with the goal of making the therapeutic method available for clinical application.

H.Weyd, L.Abeler-Dorner, B.Linke, A.Mahr, V.Jahndel, S.Pfrang, M.Schnolzer, C.S.Falk, and P.H.Krammer. Annexin A1 on the surface of early apoptotic cells suppresses CD8+ T cell immunity. PLoS One. 8:e62449 (2013).

B.Linke, L.Abeler-Dorner, V.Jahndel, A.Kurz, A.Mahr, S.Pfrang, L.Linke, P.H.Krammer, and H.Weyd. The tolerogenic function of annexins on apoptotic cells is mediated by the annexin core domain. J Immunol. 194:5233-5242 (2015)

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.


Subscribe to our RSS-Feed.

to top
powered by webEdition CMS