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Young Investigator Award for DKFZ researcher

No. 37a | 11/07/2017 | by Koh

For his work towards developing a vaccine against brain tumors, Lukas Bunse from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) has received the Young Investigator Award of the 2017 Württemberg Cancer Award. The award comes with a budget of €15,000.

Lukas Bunse

Tumor cells often exhibit gene mutations that lead to altered proteins. Lukas Bunse investigates how a tumor vaccination that specifically targets the cancer mutation can support the immune system in fighting rare types of brain cancer without harming healthy cells.

In some types of brain cancer, the tumor cells produce a uniquely altered version of a protein molecule called IDH1. In collaboration with colleagues from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Bunse has developed a vaccine that uses this mutated protein as a "wanted photo", thus training the immune system to fight tumor cells that exhibit the specific mutation. The vaccine is currently being tested in a clinical trial. Bunse will use the money that comes with the award to study how the vaccination therapy against mutated brain cancer cells can be further enhanced.

Lukas Bunse was born on June 17, 1988 in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. He studied medicine at Heidelberg University and University College London and pursued his doctoral studies in Michael Platten's lab at the DKFZ and at the Neurology Department of Heidelberg University Hospital, where he earned his MD in 2016. In 2013/2014, he was a visiting researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA. Since 2016, he has been a staff scientist at the Clinical Cooperation Unit "Neuroimmunology and Brain Tumor Immunology" at the DKFZ in Heidelberg.

Bunse receives the Young Investigator Award of the 2017 Württemberg Cancer Award from the Dres. Carl. Maximilian und Carl Manfred Bayer Foundation in recognition of his work on the topic "The role of tumoral and stromal MHC class II expression in the context of neoepitope-specific brain tumor vaccinations".

Every year since 2009, the foundation has awarded the Württemberg Cancer Award as 'Project Prize' and/or 'Young Investigator Award' to recognize the work of young, talented medical doctors who are specifically focused on cancer research. Scientists younger than 40 years who carry out their research or were born in Württemberg are eligible for the awards. The prizes for 2017 have a total budget of €55,000.

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Source: private

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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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