Mainz, March 2018 – On March 15th, Prof. Dietmar Zehn from the Technical University of Munich, School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, will be visiting Mainz in the context of our Seminars in Translational Oncology series (SITO). You are cordially invited to his talk at 5 pm in building 708 of the University Medicine Mainz.
The title of his talk is:
Subsets and T cell differentiation in chronic LCMV infection
The presentation is open to everybody.
Prof. Dietmar Zehn is a professor of Animal Physiology and Immunology. He earned a MD/PhD degree from the Humboldt University in Berlin in 2004, for having published papers on the antigen presenting capacity of dendritic cells. In the same year, he became a post-doctoral fellow of Michael J. Bevan in the Department of Immunology at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. There he investigated how the affinity of T cell receptors (TCR) for self- and foreign-peptide MHC-complexes impacts T cell responses. His key findings are that central and peripheral tolerance routinely fail to eliminate low affinity autoimmune T cells and that even very low affinity TCR and peptide-MHC interactions are sufficient to generate effector and memory T cells. His excellent expertise in the fields of immunology of infectious diseases, immunological self-tolerance, and cellular immunology has led to important scientific contributions.
His publication list can be viewed following this link.
Mainz, February 16, 2018 – The Keystone Symposium on Antibodies as Drugs: Translating Molecules into Treatments, will take place February 25th – March 1st, 2018 at the Whistler Conference Centre in Whistler, Canada.
Ugur Sahin will speak in the session on Novel Ways to Deliver Antibody Therapy on Thursday, March 1. The title of his lecture is “Antibody and mRNA-based Therapeutics”.
For more information on this event, please see the official Keystone website.
We are pleased to announce a three-year grant from the Falconwood Foundation, New York, USA, totalling 3 Million Euros. The grant supports the launch of a new research project to identify biomarkers specific for neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) that are crucial for the development of new, personalized immunotherapies to treat NET patients.
Further details are announced in the official press release.
TRON has been shortlisted for Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge Award as part of team BLUEPRINT
TRON is part of a multi-disciplinary team of scientists that has been shortlisted to the final stages of Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge*. The team is led by Dr. Lindy Durrant from the University of Nottingham and includes our close cooperation partner BioNTech and its associate Genentech. Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge is an ambitious series of £20m global grants tackling some of the toughest questions in cancer research.
Team BLUEPRINT’s goal is to probe the full potential of the tumour vaccine concept by building blueprints for an effective therapy for patients with most types of cancer. Blueprint envisions a future in which every cancer patient will be offered a vaccine that is tailored to the genetic and antigenic profile of their tumour as a standard-of-care treatment.
The team has received seed-funding to draft their full research proposal, and winning teams will be announced in autumn 2018.
This is the second round of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge award and last year four teams were awarded up to £20 million each*.
* See website for more information: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/how-we-deliver-research/grand-challenge-award
Mainz, January 23, 2018 – The Keystone Symposium on Lymphocytes and their Role in Cancer will take place February 11th-15th 2018 at the Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colorado. This is a joint event with Emerging Cellular Therapies: T Cells and Beyond.
Ugur Sahin will chair the session on Cellular Therapies in Blood Malignancies, and give a lecture entitled “Systemic RNA Delivery, Dendritic Cell Vaccines and Implications for Cancer Immunotherapy” in the Emerging Concepts in the Development of Tumor Vaccines session on February 14th at 5:00 p.m.
For more information on this event, please see the official Keystone website.
Co-delivery of viral immune evasion proteins results in increased expression of self-amplifying RNA
The concept of delivering genetic material to defective cells to treat diseases or to vaccinate healthy people against infections has been around for quite some time. Nevertheless, key challenges remain, such as efficient delivery of the material as well as duration of gene expression. Collaborative research led by scientists from TRON, the University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and BioNTech AG gives new insight on how a novel approach can overcome these gene delivery hurdles.
Overcoming the innate immune response
“In this study, we improved the expression of alphavirus derived self-amplifying RNA (saRNA), which is probably the most promising candidate amongst nucleic acid-based delivery platforms”, says Tim Beissert, first author of the work published in September in Human Gene Therapy. “saRNA vectors are of increasing interest for applications such as transient expression of recombinant proteins and vaccination.” saRNA however, also induces a strong innate host immune response in transfected cells, which until now has been an obstacle to the full exploitation of this platform. The team therefore set out to examine how this unwanted immune response could be suppressed, ensuring efficient gene expression.
EKB does the job
“In previous studies, we showed that a cocktail of three vaccinia virus proteins E3, K3 and B18 (EKB) improved the expression of synthetic non-replicating mRNA”, Tim Beissert continues to elaborate. “We therefore set out to test this concept with saRNA and optimized this approach.”
“We co-delivered non-replicating mRNA encoding the EKB proteins with our gene of interest located on saRNA and looked for increased expression”, adds Mario Perkovic, co-author of the work. “We show that this strategy resulted in highly potent blocking of the immune response and in an increased expression of the encoded protein.”
The implications are manifold
Antigen-encoding saRNA is safe and, due to self-amplification, high levels of protein can by produced from even minute amounts of transfected templates. saRNA vectors are of increasing interest for applications such as transient expression of recombinant proteins and vaccination. “Our work addresses a high need for efficient gene delivery”, Tim Beissert highlights the importance of their work. “This application promises improved bioavailability of the encoded protein, reduce the effective dose and correspondingly the cost of goods of manufacture. Since vaccination of major parts of the population – like the annual influenza vaccination – require huge amounts of the vaccine, we will continue to improve saRNA potency and delivery to reach affordable costs.”
The concept of delivering genetic material to defective cells to treat diseases or to vaccinate healthy people against infections has been around for quite some time. Nevertheless, key challenges remain, such as efficient delivery of the material as well as duration of gene expression.
TRON in the Media
Welcome to TRON
TRON – Translational Oncology at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is a biopharmaceutical research organization that pursues new diagnostics and drugs for the treatment of cancer and other severe diseases with high medical need. A focus of TRON is the development of novel platforms for individualized therapies and biomarkers, translating basic research into drug applications. TRON partners with academic institutions, biotech companies and the pharmaceutical industry, executing research with leading-edge technologies and supporting the development of innovative drugs to promote human health.