Therapy for rare cancers
NCT scientists from Heidelberg and Dresden receive the Paul Martini Prize
Stefan Fröhling and Hanno Glimm from the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden receive this year's Paul Martini Prize / Joint press release by the NCT Heidelberg and the NCT/UCC Dresden
Stefan Fröhling and Hanno Glimm from the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden receive this year's Paul Martini Prize for the DKFZ/NCT/DKTK MASTER program. The program shows new treatment options based on comprehensive molecular analyzes for patients suffering from rare types of cancer or cancer at an unusually young age. The prize is endowed with 50,000 euros.
The NCT is a cross-site cooperation between the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD) in Heidelberg, as well as the DKFZ, the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital in Dresden, the Medical Faculty of the TU Dresden and the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Dresden.
Rare types of cancer are often difficult to treat and little research has been done on them. Therefore, the DKFZ/NCT/DKTK MASTER program focuses on patients with advanced rare cancers and those diagnosed with cancer at an unusually early age. Based on comprehensive molecular analyses, which include the sequencing of complete tumor genomes and the search for hereditary cancer risk factors, it shows new treatment options in many cases. In addition to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the NCT locations Heidelberg and Dresden, the eight partner locations of the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK) also cooperate in the precision oncology program MASTER. For the success of the program, its leaders Stefan Fröhling and Hanno Glimm, managing directors at the NCT locations Heidelberg and Dresden as well as senior scientists at the DKFZ, received this year's Paul Martini Prize. It is awarded by the foundation of the same name for outstanding achievements in clinical-therapeutic drug research and is endowed with 50,000 euros.
As part of the MASTER program, experts analyze the molecular, cellular and functional properties of the tumors of the participating patients using a complete genetic analysis. Some of these characteristics, such as certain changes in the cancer cell's genome, can serve as biomarkers that indicate the chances of success of certain treatment approaches. On this basis, a molecular tumor board – an interdisciplinary team with expertise in oncology, pathology, molecular biology, bioinformatics and human genetics – makes individual therapy recommendations.
Stefan Fröhling explains: “In the case of rare cancers, the patient groups in individual cancer centers are usually too small for meaningful examinations. In order to obtain more reliable results, we work closely in the MASTER program, starting from the NCT locations in Heidelberg and Dresden, with the locations of the DKTK and a total of more than 100 partners throughout Germany.”
Hanno Glimm says: “The Molecular Tumor Board can recommend treatment with some new, experimental therapies for more than 80 percent of patients. The recommendation is implemented in about a third of patients and often leads to significantly improved control of the disease compared to previous therapy.”
On behalf of the six-person jury of the Paul Martini Foundation, Stefan Endres, Head of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich, acknowledged the success of the program: "The award winners have shown how molecular characterization and basic knowledge can lead patients to therapies can help and how, conversely, the analysis of individual cases of illness can advance basic research. This bidirectional translation is groundbreaking for oncology practice as well as the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics.”
Since the start of the DKFZ/NCT/DKTK MASTER program in 2012, more than 3,500 patients have been included in the program by 2021. Based on the individual recommendations within the framework of the program, new standard therapies are to be developed in subsequent studies.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Fröhling is a member of the Managing Directorate of the NCT Heidelberg and head of the Department of Translational Medical Oncology at the DKFZ. His research interests include cancer genomics, molecular pathogenesis and targeted therapies for bone and soft tissue sarcomas and myeloid neoplasia.
Prof. Dr. Hanno Glimm is a member of the Managing Directorate of the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC) and head of the Translational Medical Oncology department at the NCT/UCC Dresden and the Translational Functional Cancer Genomics working group at the DKFZ. His scientific focus is the development of mechanism-based diagnostics and therapy in personalized oncology.
The non-profit Paul Martini Foundation based in Berlin promotes drug research and research on drug therapy and intensifies the scientific dialogue between medical scientists in universities, hospitals, the researching pharmaceutical industry, other research institutions and representatives of health policy and the authorities. The sponsor of the foundation is the vfa, Berlin, with its currently 47 member companies.
The foundation is named after the outstanding Bonn scientist and physician Professor Paul Martini (1889-1964) in recognition of his special services to the promotion and further development of clinical-therapeutic research, which he significantly shaped over decades with his "Methodology of Therapeutic Examination" published in 1932.
National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg
The National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg is a joint institution of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD), the Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg and the German Cancer Aid. The aim of the NCT is to transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic as quickly as possible and thus to benefit the patients. This applies to diagnosis as well as treatment, follow-up care or prevention. The tumor outpatient clinic is the heart of the NCT. Here, the patients benefit from an individual therapy plan drawn up by interdisciplinary panels of experts, the so-called tumor boards. Participation in clinical studies opens up access to innovative therapies. The NCT is thus a trend-setting platform for transferring new research results from the laboratory to the clinic. The NCT cooperates with self-help groups and supports them in their work. The NCT Heidelberg has had a partner location in Dresden since 2015. The Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) was founded in Heidelberg in 2017. The pediatric oncologists at the KiTZ work together with the NCT Heidelberg in joint structures.
National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC)
The National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC) is a joint institution of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, the Medical Faculty of the Technical University of Dresden and the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR).
The NCT has set itself the task of linking research and patient care as closely as possible. This means that cancer patients can be treated at the NCT locations using the latest scientific findings. At the same time, the close proximity of the laboratory and clinic gives the scientists important impetus for their practical research. The common aim of the NCT locations is to develop the NCT into an international top center for patient-oriented cancer research. The Dresden center builds on the structures of the University Cancer Center Dresden (UCC), which was founded in 2003 as one of the first Comprehensive Cancer Centers (CCC) in Germany. Since 2007, the UCC has been continuously recognized by the German Cancer Aid (DKH) as a "Top Oncological Center".
German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK)
The German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK) is a joint, long-term initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the participating federal states and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and was founded as one of the six German Centers for Health Research (DZGs). In the DKTK, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) as the core center connects long-term with university partner locations and clinics in Germany that are particularly well-known oncologically. Research institutions and clinics in Berlin, Dresden, Essen/Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Mainz, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Munich and Tübingen cooperate with the DKFZ in order to create optimal conditions for cancer research close to the clinic. The consortium promotes interdisciplinary research topics at the interface between basic research and clinical practice, as well as clinical studies on innovative therapy and diagnostic procedures. Another focus is the development of research platforms to accelerate the use of personalized cancer therapies and to improve the diagnosis and prevention of cancer.