Adresse: Otfried-Müller-Straße 10
72076 Tübingen


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Prof. Julia Skokowa

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Wissenschaftliche Koordinatorin

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Dr. Olga Klimenkova

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AG Lauer


Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lauer

Internal Medicine VIII - Medical Oncology and Pneumology

Personenprofil: More about the person

Virotherapie Center Tübingen (VCT)

The group of Prof. Ulrich M. Lauer is focusing on preclinical as well as clinical research on oncolytic virotherapy. Oncolytic viruses (OV) specifically replicate in cancer cells and thereby destroy cancer tissues but do not harm normal cells. Many OVs exert their anti-tumor effect not only by directly lysing the cancer cells, but also by stimulating the anti-cancer immune response as a consequence of cell lysis and release tumor specific antigens in a virus-induced inflammatory tumor microenvironment. By these ways, OVs are able to lead to cancer regression also in patients for whom standard therapies have failed. Furthermore, OV-therapy can be combined with standard therapies (e.g. chemo-/immunotherapy or irradiation), making them exciting and highly promising new anticancer agents. Especially genetically modified OVs, which overcome the limitations of 1st generation wild-type viruses, have shown great potential in the treatment of cancer. 

Together with scientists from the Max-Planck-Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried (Munich) (Prof. Wolfgang Neubert) the group of Prof. Lauer has generated a suicide gene-armed virotherapeutic vector which greatly enhances the oncolytic efficiency when treating different kinds of tumors (such as non-small cell lung, colon, melanoma, ovarian, renal, prostate, breast cancer and many others). All CMC activities already have been established and validated and an academic / investigator-initiated phase 1 trial is in preparation.

Furthermore, numerous Phase I/II virotherapy trials are carried out at the Tübingen Early Clinical Trials Unit (ECTU; headed by Prof. Lauer), making it one of Germany´s top Clinical Virotherapy Centers. 

In anticipation of future even more personalized virotherapy, experimental systems that mimic the response of solid tumors to oncolytic agents have been established based on patient-derived three-dimensional organoid models. Hallmark parameters such as efficiencies of virotherapeutic infections, kinetics of intratumoral viral replication and immune-mediated oncolysis are determined in vitro. This will not only help to test and further engineer new generations of virotherapeutic vectors, but also to predict their efficacies in a highly personalized context (in the sense of a companion diagnostic). 

In a further project, the group of  Prof. Ulrich M. Lauer is working on viral vector-based vaccines against pandemic threats caused by viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) or other respiratory pathogens. In collaboration with the MPI-B (Prof. Reinhard Fässler, Dept. Molecular Medicine) novel viral vector-based “Semi-live” vaccines (the “vir4vac” platform) are generated for intranasal use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) or other respiratory pathogens. For this purpose, a unique respiratory viral vector (Sendai virus-based), which copies the natural way of respiratory infections, is employed to express the Spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2. This results in a full protection also of the airways and thus fully breaks any further transmissions of SARS-CoV-2, thereby preventing any uncontrolled infections. According to WHO, such vaccines are classified as 2nd generation vaccines and are supposed to be superior, especially in inducing an effective sterilizing immunity, when compared with any 1st generation types of anti-Covid-19 vaccines which only can be applied i.m. so far.

Wissenschaftliche Abbildung

GRT projects

  • Clinical development of a novel suicide gene-armed oncolytic measles vaccine virus (MeV-SCD) for biological therapy of cancer. 
  • Development of patient‑derived CRC (colorectal cancer) tumor slice cultures and single-cell-suspensions to complement pre-clinical studies and eventually promote cancer immune-related drug discovery, including virotherapy, and ease the translation to the clinics 
  • Development of patient-derived three-dimensional organoids from CRC as model systems to investigate individualized treatment options in oncolytic virotherapy
  • Establishing a new platform to investigate the efficacy of oncolytic virotherapy in a human ex vivo peritoneal carcinosis model
  • Investigation of new multimodal approaches in the therapy of NUT carcinomas (NCs) involving immuno­virotherapy, small molecule inhibitors and BET-protein inhibitors
  • Generation of a novel first-in-class RNA-vectored “Semi-live” Vaccine Platform against Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
  • Carrying out of a very first Gene Therapy  Trial  in Germany on Morbus Wilson, employing an Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector serotype 3B encoding shortened human ATP7B (Study Title "A Phase I/II, Multicenter, Non-randomized, Open Label, Adaptive Design, 5-year Follow-up, Single Dose-escalation Study of VTX-801 in Adult Patients with Wilson’s Disease"; Study Sponsor: Vivet Therapeutics, SAS; NCT04537377) (PIs Prof. UM Lauer, Prof. CP Berg; PD Dr. E Sturm) 

GRT expertise

Molecular Virology; recombinant vectorology; 1st and 2nd generation virotherapeutic vectors; companion diagnostics for virotherapy; gene therapy phase I trials; vector-based recombinant vaccines against respiratory threats

Main GRT methods applied in the lab

  • In vitro validation of different tumor cell lines for their susceptibility to various oncolytic viruses (permissivity assays), involving a variety of virological and protein biochemical methods. 
  • Assessment of viral replication in patient-derived organoids, tumor tissue slices, fine needle biopsies or single cell suspensions from CRC and other tumors.
  • FACS analyses to explore the cell composition of patient-derived tumor samples.

Ongoing and requested funding

  • Dr. K.H. Eberle Stiftung: Neuartige Masern-Virostatika als Schlüssel für die globale Eradikation von Masern Viren
  • MLR (Ministerium für Ländlichen Raum und Verbraucherschutz Baden-Württemberg): Humane Organoide mit autologen Immunzellen als universeller Ersatz für Tierversuche
  • MWK (Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst Baden-Württemberg): First-in-Human (FIH)-Studie (Phase I) zur Klinischen Prüfung eines in eigener Forschungsarbeit entwickelten Effizienz-verstärkten Virotherapeutikums (MeV-SCD)
  • DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft): Multimodal therapy approaches for NUT carcinoma (NC) (requested)


  • Kloker LD, Calukovic B, Benzler K, Golf A, Böhm S, Günther S, Horger M, Haas S, Berchtold S, Beil J, Carter ME, Ganzenmueller T, Singer S, Agaimy A, Stöhr R, Hartmann A, Duell T, Mairhofer S, Fohrer F, Reinmuth N, Zender L, Lauer UM. Case report: Immunovirotherapy as a novel add-on treatment in a patient with thoracic NUT carcinoma. Frontiers in Oncology, section Thoracic Oncology 2022; accepted for publication on OCT10, 2022.
  • Ohnesorge PV, Berchtold S, Beil J, Haas SA, Smirnow I, Schenk A, French CA, Luong NM, Huang Y, Fehrenbacher B, Schaller M, Lauer UM. Efficacy of Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus T-VEC Combined with BET Inhibitors as an Innovative Therapy Approach for NUT Carcinoma. Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jun 2;14(11):2761. doi: 10.3390/cancers14112761.
  • Porosnicu M, Quinson AM, Crossley K, Luecke S, Lauer UM. Phase I study of VSV-GP (BI 1831169) as monotherapy or combined with ezabenlimab in advanced and refractory solid tumors. Future Oncol. 2022 Aug;18(24):2627-2638. doi: 10.2217/fon-2022-0439. Epub 2022 Jun 14.
  • Heumos S, Dehn S, Bräutigam K, Codrea MC, Schürch CM, Lauer UM, Nahnsen S, Schindler M. Multiomics surface receptor profiling of the NCI-60 tumor cell panel uncovers novel theranostics for cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Cell Int. 2022 Oct 11;22:311. doi: 10.1186/s12935-022-02710-y.
  • Carter ME, Hartkopf AD, Wagner A, Volmer LL, Brucker SY, Berchtold S, Lauer UM, Koch A. A Three-Dimensional Organoid Model of Primary Breast Cancer to Investigate the Effects of Onco-lytic Virotherapy. Front. Mol. Biosci. 2022;9:826302. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2022.826302