Our research group delves into the mechanisms and clinical implications of early tumor cell dissemination in solid tumors, focusing on the identification and analysis of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Our work has contributed to the understanding of cancer's early spread and the genetic variability among tumor cells. By leveraging cutting-edge genomic technologies for single-cell analysis, we aim to comprehensively characterize these rare cells, which are potential precursors to metastasis, thereby enhancing clinically relevant knowledge. Additionally, we are refining liquid biopsy techniques, notably through pioneering Diagnostic Leukapheresis (DLA) – a large blood volume approach - to increase the sensitivity of CTC detection. Our goal is to better understand tumor cell dissemination to aid in the creation of more precise and effective cancer diagnostics for more precise therapies.

Current Research Focus:

  • Personalized Therapy Selection: Utilizing CTC detection and analysis to tailor multimodal treatment strategies for patients with operable solid tumors.
  • Therapeutic Resistance: Investigating CTCs to uncover mechanisms of resistance in metastatic cancers, aiming to inform treatment adjustments and improve outcomes.
  • Liquid Biopsy Enhancement: Focusing on increasing the sensitivity and yield of liquid biopsy methods to detect tumor cells more effectively. Supporting AI- and deep learning approaches to improve rare cell detection.
  • Technology Application: Advancing the application of CTC- and single-cell technologies to refine diagnostic approaches for small biopsies and lymph node diagnostics.
  • Metastasis Biology:
    • 1. Conducting genomic analyses of early disseminated bone marrow DTCs to elucidate the biological processes behind both early and late metastatic relapses.
    • 2. Investigating the role of Sialidases in metastasis.

Currently Funded Projects:

  • Circulate1: Aiming to enhance liquid biopsies in esophageal cancer to improve patient selection for multimodal therapies (Brigitte und Dr. Konstanze Wegener-Stiftung)
  • ColoMARK: Focused on improving detection and characterization of colorectal cancer markers through liquid biopsies (EU Horizon)
  • DETECT-CTCHIGH: Investigating high-sensitivity approaches for circulating tumor cell detection and analysis (Deutsche Krebshilfe)
  • Endeavor: Dedicated to pioneering new methodologies and technologies in the fight against cancer (EU Horizon)
  • Single disseminated tumor cells in the bone marrow of patients with HR*/HER2 -primary breast cancer and long-term survival versus short-term survival: systematic comparative analysis of relevant genomic differences and therapeutic vulnerabilities (Deutsche Krebshilfe)

Previous consortial fundings:

  • Cancer-ID: IMI JU consortium to standardize liquid biopsy for clinical applications.
  • CTC-Trap: attempting large blood volume analysis to improve CTC-detection.
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