Press Releases

No. 40c | 10. July 2018 | by Koh

Sleeping sickness: Pathogens camouflage themselves with sugar

Model of a Trypanosoma brucei surface antigen (VSG3). The sugar binding sit...
© CDC/ Dr. Myron G. Schultz ; DKFZ/ Erec Stebbins

It has long been known that the pathogens causing sleeping sickness evade the immune system by exchanging their surface proteins. But now scientists at the German Cancer Research Center have found an additional parasite strategy to escape the immune system: They confuse the defense system with sugar. The sugar chains on the coat protein prevent the binding of protective antibodies and thus increase the pathogenic properties of the unicellular pathogens.

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No. 40 | 09. July 2018 | by Rei

Brain cancer: Typical mutation in cancer cells stifles immune response

Mutated IDH1: Replacing a single amino acid blocks the body's defenses and ...
© L. Bunse/DKFZ

The exchange of a single amino acid building block in a metabolic enzyme can lead to cancer. In addition, it can impair the immune system, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the University Hospitals in Mannheim and Heidelberg, and the German Cancer Consortium now report. It thus blocks the body's immune response in the battle against the mutant molecule and also impedes immunotherapy against brain cancer. This finding opens new insights into cancer development and progression and it also suggests that rethinking antitumor immunotherapy is required.

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No. 39c | 05. July 2018 | by Eck

Mechanism of action of a diabetes drug differs between males and females

The example of the glitazones shows how important it is to research new dru...

Most diabetes medications do not attack the cause of the disease. Glitazones are different: they improve insulin sensitivity and can promote the conversion of unhealthy white adipose tissue into fat-burning beige adipocytes. However, due to their side effects, they are hardly used. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center are investigating how the beneficial effects of glitazones can be used without side effects. They have now taken an important first step in this direction. They have discovered a gene that is crucial for the effect of glitazones in female mice, but not in males.

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No. 38c | 26. June 2018 | by Eck

New technique makes blood cancer cells visible for the immune system

© The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), Wikipedia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type of blood cancer in adults. It can be treated with chemotherapy and oral drugs but this treatment cannot cure the cancer completely. Although the human immune system is capable of fighting the cancer cells, it often fails to notice them early enough. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital have developed a new method that tags leukemia cells with an easily noticeable label to make them visible for the immune system. In the Petri dish, immune cells that had been treated in this manner were able to eliminate CLL cells.

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No. 37c | 19. June 2018 | by Koh

14 new breast cancer risk genes discovered

© Fotolia

Many genetic markers associated with the familial breast cancer risk are outside the protein-coding regions of the genome and are likely to regulate the activity of neighboring genes. In a large international network, in which numerous DKFZ researchers were also involved, scientists have now combined genome-wide association studies with an estimation of the gene activity. They identified 48 genes whose activity is associated with breast cancer risk. Among them are 14 genes that have not yet been associated with breast cancer. The functional analysis of these genes can provide further information on the tumor biology of breast cancer and thus possibly identify target structures for new therapies.

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No. 38 | 20. June 2018 | by Rei

Key molecule of aging discovered

Stop aging? At least in flies, this has already been achieved by blocking t...
© Fotolia

Every cell and every organism ages sooner or later. But why is this so? Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have now discovered for the first time a protein that represents a central switching point in the aging process. It controls the life span of an individual - from the fly to the human being. This opens up new possibilities for developing therapies against age-related diseases.

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No. 36 | 08. June 2018 | by Eck

Malaria: Cooperating antibodies enhance immune response

Neighbouring antibodies directed against "repetitive" epitopes of the patho...
© Katharina Imkeller/DKFZ

Malaria is one of the most inflicting infectious diseases worldwide. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany, and from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, have studied how the human immune system combats malaria infections. In this study, the researchers discovered a previously unnoticed characteristic of antibodies against the malaria parasite: They can cooperate with each other, thus binding even stronger to the pathogens and improving the immune response. The results, now published in Science, are expected to help develop a more effective vaccine against the disease.

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No. 35 | 05. June 2018 | by Sch/Koh

Quality of life after breast cancer

© Fotolia

Five years after the diagnosis, the quality of life of breast cancer survivors has largely returned to that of the general population, scientists at the German Cancer Research Center have found. However, breast cancer survivors continued to suffer significantly more from sleep problems, cognitive impairment, and fatigue. The results of the recently published study should help to better tailor breast cancer follow-up to the patients' complaints.

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No. 34 | 04. June 2018 | by Koh

What is the economic value of a life year? An international comparison

© Fotolia

Whether or not a medical treatment is added to the catalogue of services covered by a national health care scheme, in many jurisdictions largely depends on the economic assessment of its cost benefit ratio. The so-called "value of a statistical life year" (VSLY) is an important point of reference for this assessment. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now conducted a comprehensive analysis of economic studies to deduce the willingness to pay for a statistical life year gained in an international comparative overview*. In Europe, the median value is €158,448 or approximately five times the gross domestic product per capita. The results obtained are substantially higher than international benchmarks currently used to determine the cost effectiveness of health care interventions. The new VSLY estimates may support the assessment of medical interventions.

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No. 33c | 30. May 2018 | by Eck

Breast cancer: Microproteins essential for cancer growth

The breast cancer cell line MCF7 produces the microprotein CASIMO1 (green)....
© M. Polycarpou-Schwarz; S. Diederichs, DKFZ

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women worldwide. In order to develop new therapies, it is necessary to understand exactly how breast cancer cells function. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center have taken an important step in this direction: In tumor tissue from breast cancer patients, they discovered a tiny protein that is essential for the growth of the tumor cells. If the gene for the microprotein is switched off, the growth of the breast cancer cells is inhibited.

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