DKTK Essen/Düsseldorf: New laboratories inaugurated for translational skin cancer research
The Department for Translational Oncology Specialising in Skin Cancer Research is located on the Campus of the University Duisburg/Essen and work at the unit started back in September 2014.
Besides conducting basic research, Professor Becker and his team are working intensively on the translation of tumour biology and immunology issues from preclinical models into the clinical context. Special methods have been established for this purpose that can also be used to analyse biomaterial obtained from routine diagnostics and fixed samples. Formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue samples are not usually suitable for in-depth molecular and immunological analyses. The new methods enable the scientists to also obtain reliable information from samples of this kind.
“Besides collaborating with working groups on UDE’s Essen campus, there are already close links to the oncological clinics and immunological institutes of the Medical Department,” explains Prof. Jürgen C. Becker. The aim is to intensify these links further through joint research projects.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of skin cancer patients has risen steeply. Around 225,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. More than 25,000 of them have malignant melanoma, and around 1000 have the even more aggressive Merkel cell carcinoma, which is one of the focus areas of the research work being carried out at the translational skin cancer research institute. Until recently, there were no effective treatment options for advanced Merkel cell carcinoma, and recoveries at the distant metastatic stage were extremely rare. Recently, however, it has been shown that therapeutic activation of the immune system can achieve lasting tumour regression. Scientists from the translational skin cancer research institute are playing a significant part in the research into such treatment methods, alongside the DKTK, the West German Cancer Centre (WTZ) and the Dermatology Clinic at UK Essen.
The appointment of Prof. Jürgen Becker was made within the DKTK, a joint initiative involving the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), participating German states and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).
The WTZ in Essen is one of the largest oncological super centres supported by German Cancer Aid and is also one of eight DKTK locations in Germany. The consortium links the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg to leading university clinics to speed up the transfer of results from basic research into clinical practice.
The focus of the DKTK is on interdisciplinary research approaches and innovative clinical trials that are designed to help improve cancer care and diagnosis and lead to faster application of personalised treatments for cancer patients. Besides Essen/Düsseldorf, there are seven more DKTK locations: Berlin, Dresden, Frankfurt/Mainz, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Munich and Tübingen. The DKTK is a joint initiative in volving the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), participating German states and the DKFZ. It was established as one of six German Health Research Centres (DZGs) in October 2012 and is financed through an institutional funding model, which is providing 80.5 million euros until 2016.
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