Department of Medicine
Clinical Collaboration Unit Translational Immunology


Address: Otfried-Müller-Str. 10
72076 Tübingen

Administration Office{element.icon}: +49 7071 29-83275{element.icon}: +49 7071 29-4391{element.icon}:

AG Salih

Scientific focus

Our research is focussed on the field of tumor immunology/biology with the following key aspects: 

  • Molecular mechanisms influencing cancer biology, host-tumor interaction and immune escape 
  • Development of novel immunotherapeutic strategies, in particular novel antibody formats to induce antitumor immunity of NK and T cells, until the stage of clinical application

With regard to the first aspect that covers our preclinical research interests, we study, among others, the expression and function of various immunoregulatory molecules in immune and tumor cells (including putative tumor stem cells). This comprises in particular the NKG2D/NKG2D ligand molecule system and various members of the TNF/TNFR family. We also analyze the influence of other cells like e.g. platelets on tumor cell biology (e.g. metastasis) and antitumor immunity. Besides their (patho)physiological role, we study the possibilities to modulate the respective molecules/cells to avoid tumor immune escape and to bolster immune surveillance. Besides increasing our general understanding of tumor immunology, this aims to improve the efficacy of presently available therapeutic strategies that rely on a sufficient anti-tumor immune response. In addition, these analyses serve to identify potential target molecules for novel therapeutic compounds (see below). Moreover, we conduct comparative analyses to identify potential differences regarding the effects of immunoregulatory molecules in mice and humans to facilitate the development of valid model systems for testing immunotherapeutic strategies prior to the application in humans.

The above described work constitutes a central basis for the second key aspect of our scientific interest: the development of novel Fc-optimized monoclonal and bispecific antibodies as well as modified immunocytokines for induction of NK and T cell anti-tumor reactivity. Notably, particular effort is made to develop our therapeutic compounds until the stage of clinical application. The feasibility of this approach is exemplified by our recent efforts with an Fc-optimized FLT3 antibody and a bispecific PSMAxCD3 antibody, which are evaluated in clinical studies:

  • FLYSYN: Multicentric clinical study evaluating an Fc-optimized FLT3-antibody for elimination of minimal residual disease (MRD) in patients with AML; (, NCT02789254); recruiting
  • DKTK_PMO_1605: First in human study to evaluate the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of the bispecific PSMAxCD3 antibody CC-1 in patients with castration resistant prostate carcinoma; EudraCT No.: 2019-000238-20); recruitment start expected in October 2019

Overall, the superordinate goal of our work is to enable the rapid translation of results from basic science into clinical application in early clinical studies (bench to bedside), which is central for our understanding of “truly translational immunology”. 

  • 2020Wissenschaftspreis der Anne Liese Gaebel-Stiftung an Jonas Heitmann

    Best Abstract Award DGHO Jahrestagung Zürich
  • 2019Young Investigator Award, 20th International AEK Cancer Congress to Stefanie Maurer
  • 2018Abstract Achievement Award, Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology, San Diego to Bastian J. Schmied
  • 2017Two poster awards, Annual meeting of the DGHO, Stuttgart to Helmut Salih and Stefanie Maurer
    Best Abstract Award, Annual meeting of the DGHO, Stuttgart to Stefanie Maurer
  • 2016Abstract Achievement Award, Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology, San Diego to Kathrin Rothfelder
  • 2015Teaching Award (best lecturer) to Helmut Salih
  • 2021

    Jonas S. Heitmann, Tatjana Bilich, Claudia Tandler, Annika Nelde, Yacine Maringer, Maddalena Marconato, Julia Reusch, Simon Jäger, Monika Denk, Marion Richter, Leonard Anton, Lisa Marie Weber, Malte Roerden, Jens Bauer, Jonas Rieth, Marcel Wacker, Sebastian Hörber, Andreas Peter, Christoph Meisner, Imma Fischer, Markus W. Löffler, Julia Karbach, Elke Jäger, Reinhild Klein, Hans-Georg Rammensee, Helmut R. Salih & Juliane S. Walz (2021). A COVID-19 peptide vaccine for the induction of SARS-CoV-2 T cell immunity. Nature 2021, doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04232-5.

  • 2021

    Bilich T, Roerden M, Maringer Y, Nelde A, Heitmann JS, Dubbelaar MS, Peter A, Hörber S, Bauer J, Rieth J, Wacker M, Berner F, Flatz L, Held S, Brossart P, Märklin M, Wagner P, Erne E, Klein R, Rammensee HGR, Salih HR, Walz JS (2021). Pre-existing and post-COVID-19 immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in cancer patients. Cancer Discovery 2021, 1. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0191

  • 2021

    Bilich T, Nelde A, Heitmann JS, Maringer Y, Roerden M, Bauer J, Rieth J, Wacker M, Peter A, Horber S, Rachfalski D, Märklin M, Stevanovic S, Rammensee HG, Salih H, Walz JS (2021). Differential T cell and antibody kinetics delineate SARS-CoV-2 peptides mediating long-term immune response after COVID-19. Science Transl Med. 2021 Mar 15;eabf7517. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abf7517

  • 2021

    Nelde A, Bilich T, Heitmann JS, Maringer Y, Salih HR, Roerden M, Lübke M, Bauer J, Rieth J, Wacker M, Peter A, Hörber S, Traenkle B, Kaiser PD, Rothbauer U, Becker M, Junker D, Krause G, Strengert S, Schneiderhan-Marra N, Templin MF, Joos TO, Kowalewski DJ, Stos-Zweifel V, Fehr M, Rabsteyn A, Mirakaj V, Karbach J, Jäger E, Graf M, Gruber LC, Rachfalski D, Preuß B, Hagelstein I, Märklin M, Bakchoul T, Gouttefangeas C, Kohlbacher O, Klein R, Stevanović S, Rammensee HG, Walz JS (2020). SARS-CoV-2-derived peptides define heterologous and COVID-19-induced T-cell recognition. Nature Immunol. 2021 Jan;22(1):74-85. doi: 10.1038/s41590-020-00808-x

  • 2020

    Latifa Zekri , Fabian Vogt, Lukas Osburg , Stefanie Müller, Joseph Kauer, Timo Manz, Martin Pflügler, Andreas Maurer , Jonas S Heitmann, Ilona Hagelstein, Melanie Märklin, Sebastian Hörner, Tilmann Todenhöfer, Carsten Calaminus, Arnulf Stenzl, Bernd Pichler, Christian la Fougère, Marc A Schneider, Hans-Georg Rammensee, Lars Zender, Bence Sipos, Helmut R Salih, Gundram Jung. An IgG-based bispecific antibody for improved dual targeting in PSMA-positive cancer. EMBO Mol Med. 2021 Feb 5;13(2):e11902.doi: 10.15252/emmm.201911902. Epub 2020 Dec 29.

  • 2019

    Salih HR, Jung G. The challenges of translation. EMBO Mol Med. 2019 Dec;11(12):e10874. doi: 10.15252/emmm.201910874. Epub 2019 Oct 18.

  • 2019

    Märklin M, Hagelstein I, Koerner SP, Rothfelder K, Pfluegler MS, Schumacher A, Grosse-Hovest L, Jung G, Salih HR, Bispecific NKG2D-CD3 and NKG2D-CD16 fusion proteins for induction of NK and T cell reactivity against acute myeloid leukemia, J Immunother Cancer 2019 May 29;7(1):143

Contact{element.contextual_1.children.icon}: Prof. Dr. med. Helmut Salih

More about the person

Laboratory{element.contextual_1.children.icon}: +49 7071 29-82880
+49 7071 29-82838


Patent applications

  • Anti-Cancer Combination Treatment (EP16170328.5; WO 2017198609 A1)
  • Novel PMSA Binding Antibody And Uses Thereof EP 16151281.9) 
  • Fusion proteins comprising a binding protein and an interleukin-15 polypeptide having a reduced affinity for IL15ra and therapeutic uses thereof (EP 15 157 911.7)
  • Use of blocking reagents for reducing unspecific T cell-activation (EP 14195645.8)
  • RANKL-specific agent for treating metastatic disease (EP 14193179.0; WO 2016075221)
  • Recombinant antibody molecule and its use for target cell restricted T cell activation; (PCT/EP 2013/050603; EP 14181060.6)
  • Bispecific fusion proteins for enhancing immune responses of lymphocytes against tumor cells (EP 15163460.7)
  • Improved bispecific FLT3xCD3 antigen binding proteins (EP 18193889.5)

Certificates and Associations

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