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Mesenchymal Stem Cell Radiobiology Research Group

Our research group is interested in elucidating the radiobiological characteristics of mesenchymal stem cells. In this respect, we are examining biological mechanisms underlying the relative radiation resistance of these stem cells and are investigating potential uses of mesenchymal stem cells to treat radiation-induced organ and tissue lesions.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a heterogeneous group of multipotent stromal cells that were first isolated from bone marrow; they can also be found in various other human tissues including kidney, placenta, umbilical cord, bone and cartilage tissues. Due to their biological characteristics and physiological roles, they likely play an important part in the regeneration of damaged tissues.

We have shown that MSCs are relatively resistant against irradiation with photons and charged particles. Expression of characteristic cellular surface markers and functional stem cell properties were found not to be altered by radiotherapy using photon and 12C ion beams. Due to their radiobiological features, MSCs appear well suited to participate in the repair or regeneration of tissue damage induced by ionizing radiation. Apart from mechanistic examinations using cell culture and animal models, translational analyses using human biopsy specimens are in preparation within our research group.


 

 

 

Potential organ sites for MSC-based therapies to treat radiation-induced tissue lesions, as derived from cell culture and animal model data (from Nicolay N. H. et al., Cancer Letters 2015)

Members/Contact

Group leaders:

Nils H. Nicolay, M.D., Ph.D. Opens window for sending email nils.nicolay@med.uni-heidelberg.de
Peter E. Huber, M.D., Ph.D. (collaborator, German Cancer Research Center) Opens window for sending emailp.huber@dkfz.de
Postdocs:Ramon Lopez Perez, Ph.D.

Doctoral students:

Ms Line Hoeltgen (M.D. student)
Mr Alexander Rühle (M.D. student)
Mr Oliver Xia (M.D. student)
Ms Franziska Muenz (M.D. student)
Mr Julius Schuster (M.D. Student)

Technicians

Ms Sylvia Trinh
Ms Ludmilla Frick

 

 

 

Collaborators

  • Anthony D. Ho, M.D. (Department of Hematology and Oncology, Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany)
  • Rainer Saffrich, Ph.D., Patrick Wuchter, M.D. (Department for Transfusion Medicine and Clinical Immunology, German Red Cross Blood Donation Services)
  • Klaus J. Weber, Ph.D. (Section for Radiobiology, Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany)
  • Paul Flechsig, M.D. (Department for Nuclear Medicine, Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany)
  • Peter E. Huber, M.D., Ph.D. (Molecular and Radiation Oncology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany)
  • Sebastian Bickelhaupt, M.D. (Department for Diagnostic Radiology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany)
  • Falk Roeder, M.D., Christian Thieke, M.D., Ph.D. (Department for Radiation Oncology, Großhadern University Hospital, Munich, Germany)

Selected Publications

  • Rühle A, Perez RL, Glowa C, Weber KJ, Ho AD, Debus J, Saffrich R, Huber PE, Nicolay NH. Cisplatin radiosensitizes radioresistant human mesenchymal stem cells. Oncotarget, in press
  • Nicolay NH, Rühle A, Perez RL, Trinh T, Sisombath S, Weber KJ, Ho AD, Debus J, Saffrich R, Huber PE. Mesenchymal stem cells are sensitive to bleomycin treatment. Sci Rep. 2016 May 24;6:26645.
  • Nicolay NH, Rühle A, Perez RL, Trinh T, Sisombath S, Weber KJ, Schmezer P, Ho AD, Debus J, Saffrich R, Huber PE. Mesenchymal stem cells exhibit resistance to topoisomerase inhibition. Cancer Lett. 2016 Apr 28;374(1):75-84.
  • Nicolay NH, Lopez Perez R, Rühle A, Trinh T, Sisombath S, Weber KJ, Ho AD, Debus J, Saffrich R, Huber PE. Mesenchymal stem cells maintain their defining stem cell characteristics after treatment with cisplatin. Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 25;6:20035.
  • Nicolay NH, Perez RL, Saffrich R, Huber PE. Radio-resistant mesenchymal stem cells: Mechanisms of resistance and potential implications for the clinic. Oncotarget. 2015 Aug 14;6(23):19366-80.
  • Nicolay NH, Lopez Perez R, Debus J, Huber PE. Mesenchymal stem cells - A new hope for radiotherapy-induced tissue damage? Cancer Lett. 2015 Oct 1;366(2):133-40
  • Nicolay NH, Liang Y, Lopez Perez R, Bostel T, Trinh T, Sisombath S, Weber KJ, Ho AD, Debus J, Saffrich R, Huber PE. Mesenchymal stem cells are resistant to carbon ion radiotherapy. Oncotarget. 2015 Feb 10;6(4):2076-87.
  • Nicolay NH, Sommer E, Perez RL, Wirkner U, Bostel T, Ho AD, Lahn M, Debus J, Saffrich R, Huber PE. Mesenchymal stem cells are sensitive to treatment with kinase inhibitors and ionizing radiation. Strahlenther Onkol. 2014 Oct;190(11):1037-45.
  • Nicolay NH, Sommer E, Lopez R, Wirkner U, Trinh T, Sisombath S, Debus J, Ho AD, Saffrich R, Huber PE. Mesenchymal stem cells retain their defining stem cell characteristics after exposure to ionizing radiation. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013 Dec 1;87(5):1171-8.

Awards

  • • Travel Award (European Radiation Research Society – ERRS): Alexander Rühle
  • • Hanns Langendorff Award 2017 (German Society for Medical Radiation Protection and Hanns Langendorff Foundation): Nils Nicolay
  • • Hermann Holthusen Award 2017 (German Society for Radiation Oncology – DEGRO): Nils Nicolay
  • • Dieter Frankenberg Award 2016 (German Society for Radiation Research – GBS): Nils Nicolay
  • • Resident Recognition Award 2016 (American Society for Radiation Oncoloy – ASTRO): Nils Nicolay
  • • Best Poster Award 2015 (German Society for Radiation Research – GBS): Ramon Lopez Perez
  • • Resident Recognition Award 2014 (American Society for Radiation Oncology – ASTRO): Nils Nicolay
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