Group for Translational Skin Cancer Research (Prof. Dr. Jürgen Becker)
DKTK Essen / Düsseldorf
Recent advances in cancer biology, molecular biology and immunology has significantly impacted management of cancer. Translational cancer research bridges the gap between laboratory-based science and patient care. In skin cancer this is facilitated by the fact that most tumors are diagnosed at early stages, have a predictable course of progression (i.e. loco-regional metastases preceding distant metastases) and in parallel to visceral disease skin metastases frequently occur. Cancer is more than a mere accumulation of cancer cells: the mutual interplay of stromal, immune and neoplastic cells is of utmost importance. Thus, cancer biology and tumor immunology can only be analyzed in model systems representing this complexity. In such models, we not only address the reciprocal effects of these interaction on cancer cells itself, but also on other tumor characteristics such as in inflammation, angiogenesis and immune responses. However, even advanced model systems still remain artificial systems. Consequently, the obtained findings are confirmed in the human disease, which is realized locally in collaboration with the Department of Dermatology of the Universitätsklinikum Essen (Head: Prof. Dr. Dirk Schadendorf) and nationally in the DKTK Dermatooncology Task Force (headed by Prof. Dr. Stephan Grabbe).
Future Projects and Goals:
To scrutinize the cancer cell stroma interactions we use spontaneous, syngeneic, and patient-derived murine tumor models, we are using the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model as well as complex 3D-culture systems to scrutinize the impact of cancer cells on the polarization of fibroblasts and macrophages. With respect to translation of experimental findings into the clinical situation, it has to be taken into account that analyses of tumor samples is both hampered by the limited amount as well the fact that it is generally only available as formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded sections. Hence, we established reliable methods such as nanoString-based miRNA, mRNA and protein detection, ImmunoSeq-based T-cell receptor clonotype mapping and multiplexed immunofluorescence-based phenotypic characterization for this material.