About us

The projected cluster includes the LBIs for Applied Cancer Research, Clinical Oncology and Photodynamic Therapy, Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology, Stem Cell Transplantation and Surgical Oncology. The aim of the projected cluster „Translational Oncology“ is the cooperative investigation of genetic and molecular biological characteristics of the tumor cells involved in minimal residual disease (MRD) in vitro and translation of the experimental and diagnostic results into the clinical practice involving therapeutic modalities with the newest generation of antitumoral drugs. Minimal residual disease is the designation for the occurrence of a low number of tumor cells remaining clinically undetected following curative therapy that give rise to tumor relapses.
MRD is a central question in cancer therapy, since a major subpopulation of patients which underwent “curative” resection and therapy ultimately relapse and would have received more aggressive adjuvant therapy, provided that residual disease had been clearly proven. Otherwise low-risk patients would have not been treated aggressively in an adjuvant setting. MRD can be detected by methods in bone marrow or by extremely sensitive PCR (polymerase-chain-reaction)-based methods in peripheral blood. PCR-based methods allow for the characterization of tumor-specific gene expression in circulating tumor cells and thereby provide additional information in regard to malignity of cells and prognosis. The different participating institutions have extensive experience in patient care, organization of clinical studies and laboratory investigation. In particular, expert knowledge in stem cell transplantation and histological detection of MRD, multicentric clinical testing of new anticancer drugs, specialized treatment of various selected tumor entities such as neuroendocrine tumors, gene expression analysis of circulating tumor cells and tumor signatures, and in vitro characterization of chemosensitivity as well as tumor cell biology have been acquired at the individual LBIs in the past and are complementary to each other to be combined in a larger cluster structure. The detection of circulating tumor cells will be supported by ongoing EU (OVCAD – OVarian CAncer Diagnosis) and GenAU projects aiming at identification of ovarian cancer cells in the blood. The assessment of methylated DNA sequences (suppressor genes) in peripheral blood as an indicator of MRD can be performed with the help of OncoLab Diagnostics GmbH. Cooperative action in this cluster, using a common tumor bank/clinical data collection and the combined clinical and experimental efforts are the base for the execution of the presented MRD project.