Press Releases

No. 60 | 22. September 2020 | by Rei

Vaccination against altered proteins could prevent cancer development


Cancer types in which a defect in genetic repair is given are characterized by a particularly high number of mutations. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg University Hospital, the University of Heidelberg and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) have now succeeded in identifying mutations in these tumors that are identical in numerous patients and which also lead to altered protein structures. Vaccinations against these altered proteins could in future prevent the development of these forms of cancer if they are proven in clinical studies.

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No. 52 | 04. September 2020 | by Thiel

Two ERC Starting Grants to DKFZ junior scientists

Pei-Chi Wei
© Jutta Jung/DKFZ

The European Research Council (ERC) grants are considered a particularly honorable distinction for scientists at all career levels. With its "Starting Grants", the ERC aims to pave the way for excellent young scientists to pursue an independent career. This year, two scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) will receive the renowned grant: Pei-Chi Wei wants to investigate the role of DNA breaks in the development of the brain. Darjus Tschaharganeh plans to use the funds to decipher the significance of altered chromosome numbers in the development of cancer and cancer therapy.

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No. 51 | 03. September 2020 | by Koh

Joining efforts for better cancer care in Europe

At the opening of the conference „Improving Cancer Care in Europe“ from lef...
© Uwe Anspach/DKFZ

Rising cancer incidence rates pose major challenges for Europe's healthcare systems. What can be done to improve cancer care in Europe? How can we ensure that people in all EU countries have equal access to innovative cancer medicine? What have we learned from the COVID-19 crisis to ensure the care of cancer patients during possible future pandemics? These questions were discussed by patients, politicians, scientists and physicians at the international expert meeting "Improving Cancer Care in Europe" organized by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) and the German Federal Ministry of Health in Heidelberg on September 3.

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No. 49 | 20. August 2020 | by Thiel

A metabolic enzyme as a potential new target for cancer immune therapies

The metabolic products formed by the enzyme IL4I1 activate the dioxin recep...
© Pfänder/DKFZ

The metabolic enzyme IL4I1 (Interleukin-4-Induced-1) promotes the spread of tumor cells and suppresses the immune system. This was discovered by scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). The enzyme that activates the dioxin receptor is produced in large quantities by tumor cells. In the future, substances that inhibit IL4I1 could open up new opportunities for cancer therapy. The scientists have now published their results in the journal Cell.

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No. 50 | 20. August 2020 | by Moos

Gene defect influences tumor development in childhood brain tumors

The picture shows the production of the protein BCOR (pink) in the brain ce...
© L. Kutscher/KiTZ

Medulloblastoma are the most common malignant brain tumors affecting children. The greatest danger is that the cancer cells can quickly spread to the surrounding tissues. Two genetic defects play a key role in the onset of these tumors, as scientists at the Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ), the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the National Institute of Neuroscience in Tokyo have discovered. The aim is for the findings to help scientists develop personalized treatment strategies for young patients.

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No. 48c | 12. August 2020 | by Thiel

New technology provides insight into the development of immune cells

© Rodewald/DKFZ

The entire range of our blood and immune cells are derived from hematopoietic stem cells. Yet which genes influence how they develop into the different cell types? Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now developed a new technology to answer this question. A genetic marker system enables researchers to follow which development path the cells take at the same time as identifying which genes are actively transcribed as messenger RNAs.

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No. 48 | 06. August 2020 | by Koh

ELLIS Life Heidelberg: a bridge between artificial intelligence and the life sciences

The great potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for the life sciences – from basic research in biology to medical applications – has largely been neglected to date. A new research unit aims to support AI research in the life sciences and to forge international links with the activities in Heidelberg. The unit is part of the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS). ELLIS Life Heidelberg was founded by researchers from the German Cancer Research Center, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, and the University of Heidelberg and will initially be funded by the founding institutions for five years.

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No. 46 | 04. August 2020 | by Thiel

The wrong track: how papillomaviruses trick the immune system

Papillomaviruses in the stratum corneum of a skin tumor of a Mastomys couch...
© Michelle Neßling/DKFZ

Specific antibodies protect us against viral infections – or do they not? Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) studied the immune response to papillomaviruses in mice and discovered a hitherto unknown mechanism by which the pathogens outwit the immune system: At the beginning of the infection cycle, they produce a longer version of a protein that surrounds the viral genome. The body produces antibodies against this protein, but they are not effective in fighting the pathogen.

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No. 44c | 15. July 2020 | by Koh

Wanted: Antibodies that render malaria pathogens harmless

In red blood cells, the malaria pathogen Plasmodium falciparum forms charac...
© CDC/Wikipedia

A protective vaccination against the parasite Plasmodium falciparum and thus against the dreaded malaria tropica should ideally take effect immediately after transmission of the pathogen. However, it is precisely at this stage of the parasite infection that the body's own defence system shows clear weaknesses. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg have investigated what kind of antibodies are particularly effective here. The goal is to design future vaccines in such a way that the immune system mainly produces these highly effective antibodies. This could considerably improve the protective effect.

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No. 44 | 08. July 2020

New Clues from Fruit Flies about the Critical Role of Sex Hormones in Stem Cell Control

Sex hormones increase the risk of oncogenic mutations triggering tumours: M...
© Teleman/DKFZ

In one of the first studies addressing the role of sex hormones' impact on stem cells in the gut, scientists outline new insights showing how a steroidal sex hormone, that is structurally and functionally similar to human steroid hormones, drastically alters the way intestinal stem cells behave, ultimately affecting the overarching structure and function of this critical organ. The authors found that ecdysone, a steroid hormone produced by fruit flies, stimulates intestinal stem cell growth and causes the gut of the female fruit fly to grow in size, and induces other critical changes. The study also provides a mechanism to account for sex-specific roles for intestinal stem cells in normal gut function. Moreover, the research presents evidence that gut hormones may accelerate tumor development. The findings, reported jointly by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U), are published in the journal Nature.

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