One main ideal in medical research is a quick translation from bench to bedside. To achieve this still-rare ideal, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) founded the six Centres of Health Research (Deutsche Zentren der Gesundheitsforschung, DZG). These centres serve the purpose of promoting “translation” – the transfer of research results from the laboratory into clinical practice. The German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) is one of these six centres. It brings together the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg with some of the strongest university hospitals and cancer research institutions at seven partner sites across Germany. One partner site is Tuebingen, which is composed of the University Hospital Tuebingen and participating institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Tuebingen.
One core task of the Consortium is to continuously evaluate how discoveries made in basic research can be used for increasingly individualized prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer diseases. Within DKTK, more than 420 physicians, scientists and their research groups are dedicated to this “translational” approach. To this end, several research programmes have been implemented. Examples include oncogenic pathways, molecular diagnostics, tumor immunology and immunotherapy, radiation therapy and imaging, and prevention. Research and collaboration are crucially supported by research platforms such as the Clinical Communication Platform, Service Units or the School of Oncology.
Within the DKTK, the Tuebingen partner site contributes in particular to the development of immunotherapy. For example, scientists such as Professor Hans-Georg Rammensee and his team investigate how the immune system can be triggered to detect tumor cells on its own and then destroy them. As part of this, in 2014 Professor Helmut Salih was appointed the professorship in translational immunology – the first DKTK professor at this partner site. Among other topics, his research deals with molecular mechanisms that influence the interaction between tumors and the immune system and how tumors manage to escape the immune system. The research is strongly supported by the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Centre in Tuebingen which, in this form, is unique to academic research in Germany. At the centre, antibodies, immunopeptides and other substances relevant for research can be produced for clinical research under the highest safety standards. This service is not only beneficial to Tuebingen but also benefits the other DKTK partner sites. At the same time, Tuebingen can use the partners’ resources within DKTK, such as the sequencing units at the DKFZ in Heidelberg. This way, the Consortium not only offers many new opportunities for exciting collaborations but also the opportunity to develop better infrastructures for translational and clinical research at the sites themselves.Updated 22/06/2016 2:16pm