ECRC News 2008
December 19, 2008
Newly identified Gene Powerful Predictor of Colon Cancer Metastasis Low Gene Activity – higher Survival Rate
Cancer Researchers at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charité – Universitäts Medizin Berlin (Germany) have identified a gene which enables them to predict for the first time with high probability if colon cancer is going to metastasize. Assistant Professor Dr. Ulrike Stein, Professor Peter M. Schlag, and Professor Walter Birchmeier were able to demonstrate that the gene MACC1 (Metastasis-Associated in Colon Cancer 1) not only promotes tumor growth but also the development of metastasis.When MACC1 gene activity is low, the life expectancy of patients with colon cancer is longer in comparison to patients with high MACC1 levels. (Nature Medicine, doi: 10.1038/nm.1889)*.
November 14, 2008
“Jet Injection” for Gene Therapy – First Clinical Trial Evaluates Feasibility
For the first time in a clinical study, researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, have tested a new technology enabling them to transfer genetic material directly into a tumor by means of high pressure. As Assistant Professors Wolfgang Walther, together with Professor Peter M. Schlag report in Clinical Cancer Research (Vol. 14, Nr. 22, pp. 7545-7553)*, their results show that jet injection delivers genes into the tumor tissue safely and in a targeted manner. The application was well tolerated by all 17 patients enrolled in this study. No adverse events were experienced.
October 8, 2008
Hodgkin Lymphoma – New Characteristics Discovered
Researchers are still discovering new characteristics of Hodgkin lymphoma, a common form of cancer of the lymphatic system. The malignant cells are derived from white blood cells (B cells), but have lost a considerable part of the B cell-specific gene expression pattern. The phenotype and the characteristics of Hodgkin lymphoma cells are therefore unique. Björn Lamprecht and Dr. Stephan Mathas (Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany) have demonstrated the production of interleukin 21 (IL-21) in the tumor cells of Hodgkin lymphoma. IL-21, a signaling molecule (cytokine) of the immune system, promotes the growth of cancer cells and helps them evade immune system detection (Blood*, Vol. 112. N0. 8, 2008, 3339-3347).
PTB press release September 12, 2008
Extremely exact images from inside the body
Magnetic resonance tomograph weighing 35 tonnes delivered - 7-tesla era begins in PTB and Max Delbrück Center
[PTB] It will be the only magnetic resonance tomograph of the modern 7 tesla generation in the world, in which a metrology institute is also involved. Magnetic resonance tomographs, which use a magnetic field of 7 tesla, have not yet been in operation in hospitals and clinics, but have solely served research. For the first time in the world, cardiovascular research carried out on such a device is now also to play an important role. The magnetic resonance tomograph costing approximately seven million Euros and weighing 35 tonnes was delivered to its new location, the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch on 11th September.
more (link to PTB homepage)
July 4, 2008
Curt Meyer Memorial Prize for Dr. Stephan Mathas and Dr. Martin Janz
Cancer researchers Dr. Martin Janz and Dr. Stephan Mathas of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Germany, have been honored with the Curt Meyer Memorial Prize for their research on Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They received the prize, worth 10,000 euros, on July 4, 2008 in Berlin for their findings published in Nature Immunology* from Professor Peter Schlag, president of the Berlin Cancer Society (Charité, MDC). Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a common form of cancer of the lymphatic system, originates from white blood cells (B cells), which alter their phenotype completely and thus lose all characteristics of a B cell. Dr. Janz and Dr. Mathas succeeded in decoding the camouflage mechanisms of B cells. Based on these findings, cancer researchers hope that therapy strategies can be developed that will lead to an inhibition of cell growth or to apoptosis of the Hodgkin cells.
June 4, 2008
Mutations Induce Severe Cardiomyopathy
Mutations in three genes that are important for heart contraction can induce left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC), a special form of cardiomyopathy. This was a key finding from current research conducted by Dr. Sabine Klaassen, Susanne Probst, and Prof. Ludwig Thierfelder of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Prof. Erwin Oechslin (Adult Congenital Cardiac Centre, Toronto, Canada) and Prof. Rolf Jenni (Cardiovascular Center, Zürich, Switzerland). In LVNC, the myocardial tissue of the left ventricle takes on a sponge-like appearance and protrudes into the ventricle which can greatly impair the pumping performance of the heart. Of the 63 LVNC patients studied, the scientists found 11 patients (17 percent) with several myocardial gene mutations. The researchers suspect that these genetic mutations can trigger severe cardiomyopathy. In the future, genetic testing can determine whether individual family members of the affected patients also carry this mutation and are, thus, predisposed to LVNC. The results of the study have just been published in the journal Circulation (2008, Vol. 117, pp. 2893-2901)*.
May 28, 2008
Helmholtz Association Pledges 1.8 Million for Second MDC Research School
Improvement of Doctoral Program in Cardiovascular Research
The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres has pledged 1.8 million euros over the next six years to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch (MDC) to improve its doctoral program in the research field of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. With these funds, the MDC will establish the “Helmholtz International Research School in Translational Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine – TransCard”. The primary goal of this doctoral program is to train researchers to bridge the gap between basic and clinical research. Professor Michael Gotthardt and Dr. Salim Seyfried (both MDC) have been appointed spokespersons for the new Helmholtz International Research School. The partners of the new school are the Free University and Humboldt University in Berlin.
May 26, 2008
Cécilie Vogt Clinic for Neurology Opens in Berlin-Buch
The Cécilie Vogt Clinic for Neurology, a joint undertaking of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Helios-Klinikum Berlin-Buch and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, opened officially on Monday, May 26, 2008. Professor Frauke Zipp is scientific director of the clinic. In conjunction with this position, she holds a professorship in molecular neurology at the Charité. Professor Zipp is also a research group leader at the MDC.