Press Releases

No. 42c | 30. June 2020 | by Koh

RNA molecule identified as a growth driver in various types of cancer

Non-protein-coding RNA molecules perform a variety of functional, regulator...
© Adobe Stock

A special RNA molecule ensures faster growth and stops cell ageing in many types of cancer. This was discovered by scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and partners in the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK) at the University Hospital Freiburg. If this RNA is switched off, the cell no longer has sufficient building blocks for DNA synthesis and cell division is slowed down. In future, the researchers plan to investigate whether the RNA molecule is suitable as a potential target for new cancer therapies.

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No. 41 | 24. June 2020 | by Koh

New explanation found for the extreme complexity of mutations in tumor genomes

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Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center and the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh have been studying the evolution of tumors following chemical damage. They discovered that the DNA lesions caused by the chemical are not eliminated immediately, but are passed on unrepaired over several rounds of cell division. This "lesion segregation" can drive unexpectedly complex patterns of mutations in the tumor genome, as the scientists have now published in the journal Nature.

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No. 40 | 23. June 2020 | by Koh

CAR T cell therapy: potential for considerable savings

DKFZ employees examining CAR T cells under the microscope in a clean room
© Eichmüller/DKFZ

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy is a new and in some cases highly effective form of immunotherapy to treat certain types of cancer of the blood and lymph system. This promising treatment comes at a cost, however: The manufacturers charge up to EUR 320,000 for the production of immune cells for a single patient. By determining the fixed and variable costs involved, researchers from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) established that cellular immunotherapy could be produced at a scientific institution such as DKFZ at around a tenth of the cost.

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No. 38c | 15. June 2020 | by Thiel

Muscles support a strong immune system

Sceletal muscle seen through a light microscope
© Adobe Stock

In the fight against cancer or chronic infections, the immune system must be active over long periods of time. However, in the long run, the immune defence system often becomes exhausted. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now found initial evidence in mice that skeletal muscles help to keep the immune system functional in chronic diseases.

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No. 37c3 | 04. June 2020 | by Koh

"Explosion in cancer genome": much more common than expected

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Chromothripsis is a form of genome instability by which one or a few chromosomes virtually "explode(s)" in a presumably single catastrophic event. According to current opinion, chromothripsis occurs at the beginning of tumor development and plays an important role in cancer onset. While the phenomenon was previously considered to be rather rare, scientists at the German Cancer Research Center have now shown that chromothripsis is detectable in almost half of all tumors.

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No. 37 | 29. May 2020 | by Moos

Pan-European registry study shows benefits of cancer genome sequencing for children with cancer

Some childhood cancers have characteristic genetic changes.
© S. Gröbner/KiTZ

In some cases, cancer genome analysis can help find a suitable therapy for children with relapsed cancer and delay the progression of the disease. These are the findings of the INFORM registry study conducted by the Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ), which systematically investigated the benefits of molecular precision oncology in children. The results of the pan-European project are being presented at the conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which is being held virtually from 29 to 31 May, and the project recently won the James B. Nachman endowed ASCO award.

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No. 35 | 26. May 2020 | by Rei

A growth factor for blood vessels as a protective factor for metastatic tumor cells

​Preclinical melanoma model growing in the skin used to study the eff...
© DKFZ/Augustin

In cancer patients with solid tumors, metastasis – the dissemination of cells from the primary tumor – is the most common cause of death. This is particularly true in the case of malignant melanoma. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the University of Heidelberg's Medical Faculty Mannheim have examined tumor samples from patients and have discovered a potential new target for therapy and have discovered a potential new target for treatment, at least in a special group of melanoma patients whose tumor cells produce the growth factor angiopoietin-2. The production of the growth factor in cancer cells was particularly evident in those melanomas that formed metastases. In further investigations in mice, the researchers demonstrated that tumor cells that produce angiopoietin-2 are protected against cell stress and thus have an advantage in metastasis.

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No. 30c | 14. May 2020

Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and major diseases at the same time: A balancing act for biomedical scientists

© Helmholtz Zentrum München/Charlie Padgett

Researchers, politicians and funding bodies find themselves in front of a unique situation and enormous challenge: The mounting pressure to accelerate and intensify efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic while handling the growing threat from all other diseases endangering our society. This balancing and how well the scientific community will respond to it will define health across the globe for years to come, argue scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München and Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) in the latest issue of the leading journal Cell. In their commentary, the researchers discuss how to strike a good balance between maintaining and redefining research priorities.

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No. 28 | 05. May 2020 | by Koh

European funding for two research projects with application potential

Nina Papavasiliou
© Jutta Jung / DKFZ

With its "Proof of Concept" grants, the European Research Council ERC supports scientists to further develop the economic potential of their research results. Two scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Mathias Heikenwälder and Nina Papavasiliou, are now receiving the coveted funding. Both researchers want to advance the development of antibodies: as research reagents and for cancer prevention.

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No. 27 | 04. May 2020 | by Rei

Using mini colons to detect functional differences and weaknesses of colorectal cancer

"Mini intestines" (colon organoids): After loss of the tumor suppressor gen...
© Henner Farin / DKTK

One of the main features of colorectal cancer is that there are considerable differences between the tumors of individual patients - at genetic level and hence in terms of the response to treatment too. Researchers from the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) have developed a method that allows these differences to be identified more effectively. They use mini colons grown in the laboratory for their studies that allow them to work under conditions that are as similar as possible to those found in patients. The scientists perform a large number of parallel experiments on these "organoids", which improves the comparability of the results.
The DKTK is a consortium centered around the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, which has long-term collaborative partnerships with specialist oncological centers at universities across Germany.

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