Junior Clinical Cooperation Unit Translational Surgical Oncology

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schölch

Isolation of a circulating tumor cell (green, EpCAM-Alexa488).
© dkfz.de

In localized stages, most solid tumors are curable by surgical resection. However, once the disease has spread to distant organs, the tumors are generally considered a systemic disease and are incurable in the majority of cases. Systemic spread is a consequence of tumor cell seeding into the blood stream. Tumor cells in circulation are called circulating tumor cells (CTC), single tumor cells found in distant organs are called disseminated tumor cells (DTC). CTC and DTC are the biological correlate of metastasis and are therefore the main reason for cancer-associated mortality. We are interested in the biological traits of CTC and DTC and the mechanisms enabling these cells to perform the complex process of metastasis. To investigate these mechanisms we use patient samples as well as state-of-the-art preclinical models such as genetically engineered mouse models and 3D organoid culture. In the past we were able to identify differentially regulated surface proteins in CTC which enable these cells to escape the immune system while in circulation. Future goals include the identification of actionable targets on CTC to develop agents which may be used to prevent metastatic spread of solid tumors.


Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schölch
Translational Surgical Oncology (A430)
Tel: +49 621 / 383-5253
Fax: +49 621 / 383-3809

Chirurgische Klinik
Universitätsmedizin Mannheim
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Theodor-Kutzer-Ufer 1-3
68167 Mannheim

Selected Publications

  • Steinert*, Schölch* et al. (2014) Immune Escape and Survival Mechanisms in Circulating Tumor Cells of Colorectal Cancer. Cancer Res 74, 1694–1704
  • Zhu L, Kan KJ, Grün JL, Hissa B, Yang C, Gy?rffy B, Loges S, Reißfelder C, Schölch S (2020). GAS2L1 Is a Potential Biomarker of Circulating Tumor Cells in Pancreatic Cancer. Cancers 12, 3774
  • Rahbari*, Bork*, Schölch* et al. (2016) Metastatic Spread Emerging From Liver Metastases of Colorectal Cancer: Does the Seed Leave the Soil Again? Ann Surg 263, 345–352
  • Schölch*, Bogner* et al. (2019) Serum PlGF and EGF are independent prognostic markers in non-metastatic colorectal cancer. Sci Rep 9, 10921
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