Department of Translational Oncology, Focus on Reverse Translation (Prof. Dr. Martin Sos)

DKTK Munich

Our lab is interested in the molecular processes that shape the evolution cancer cells within the tumor microenvironment during therapeutic stress. We employ patient data and functional genomic tools to discover actionable therapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer patients.

Our research focus:

The development of precision cancer medicine that aims at the specific inhibition of oncogenic targets boosted the success of translational cancer research over the past years. The identification of novel driver oncogenes such as mutant EGFR in lung adenocarcinoma patients as well as novel therapeutic strategies dramatically changed the therapeutic concepts for the treatment of virtually all cancer types. Despite the unprecedented impact of targeted therapeutics on overall survival of selected patients, the efficacy of targeted therapeutic is limited through the outgrowth of resistant clones in virtually all tumors. Similar processes play a role in the upfront and acquired resistance against immunotherapeutic agents. We are therefore committed to identify molecular nodes that could potentially boost the activity of these drugs by amplifying the innate and adaptive immune response against cancer cells.

Our approach:

To uncover the cellular networks that modify drug activity we employ CRISPR-based gain- and loss-of-function experiments including genome-wide screens, bulk and single cell sequencing and pharmacologic perturbations. To capture the individual characteristics of lung cancer and other tumors we employ cellular models, organoids and genetically engineered mouse models. Moreover, we combine innovative molecular cell biology technologies with cutting-edge computational biology methods in order to make an impact on the development of novel cancer therapies.

A. Schematic of the humanized mouse model (top) and exemplary histology of low (−), medium (+), and high (++) CD8 T cell infiltration (bottom). Scale bar 100 µm, representative images of in total n = 19 tumors of n = 10 mice. B. CRISPRa system for transcriptional upregulation of Myc paralogs (top). Expression (z-scores) of Myc paralogs and Myc target genes in CRISPRa cells (bottom). C. Viability screening of Myc-activated CRISPRa cells treated with alisertib for 96 h (n = 3). © Panels were published in Brägelmann et al., Nature Commun 2021; 12: 5505 and Dammert et al., Nature Commun 2019; 10(1):3485


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