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Oncolytic Adenovirus Group

Engineering and exploring advanced oncolytic adenovirus-based cancer therapies


We exploit the diversity of adenovirus types, explore novel molecular engineering approaches and utilize emerging molecular and immunological tools to develop advanced, adenovirus-based oncolytic agents for virotherapy of cancer.

Adenoviruses are non-enveloped, mid-size DNA viruses that are well characterized due to their prominent roles as guinea pigs in early molecular biology research and as gene therapy or vaccine vectors. The unique level of molecular characterization facilitates the rational engineering and optimization of oncolytic derivatives. Furthermore, the low pathogenicity, high stability and ease of high titer production recommend adenoviruses for applications as virotherapeutics.

One research priority of our group is to explore the increasing diversity of adenovirus types for applications in cancer therapy (Oncolytic Adenoviruses: Selecting and Engineering Adenovirus Serotypes with Improved Oncolytic and Immunostimulatory Potency). A second aim is to develop oncolytic adenoviruses as agents for genetic and tumor-specific delivery of antibody-based biotherapeutics (Viro-antibody therapy: Engineering oncolytic adenoviruses for genetic delivery of therapeutic antibodies). In a third project, we implement molecular switches for enabling drug-inducibility of oncolytic virus replication or virus-mediated expression of biotherapeutics in tumors (RNA switch-inducible genetic delivery of biotherapeutics by oncolytic viruses). Further work investigates molecular strategies for tumor-specific virus infectivity and enhanced viral cell lysis.

In our research endeavors for developing and characterizing innovative virotherapy approaches, we collaborate with local, national or international researchers and clinicians with respect to virology, immunology, molecular tools and patient-derived tumor models (see project outlines).

The Oncolytic Adenovirus Group of the CCU Virotherapy


German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe) - project grant, Wilhelm Sander-Stiftung - project grant,
Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation) - fellowship


PD Dr. Dirk M. Nettelbeck
Clinical Cooperation Unit Virotherapy (F230)
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
Im Neuenheimer Feld 242
69120 Heidelberg
E-Mail: d.nettelbeck (at)

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