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The Cluster of Excellence 2180 "Image-guided and Functionally Instructed Tumor Therapies" (iFIT) is the only oncology cluster of excellence in Germany. Since 01.01.2019, internationally renowned scientists and talented young researchers have been working together in this consortium in a globally unique collaboration of three different research areas to develop new, individualized cancer therapies.

iFIT in figures

3
research areas
6
partners
70
publications (as of June 2020)
130
involved scientists

Development of innovative and sustainable cancer therapies

The iFIT Cluster of Excellence „Image Guided and Functionally Instructed Tumor Therapies (iFIT)“ aims to achieve a comprehensive understanding of biological processes in tumors in order to develop innovative and sustainable cancer therapies. Previously available cancer therapies have often proven to be ineffective in the long term. Although modern drug-based cancer therapies are now also succeeding in containing the disease in patients with advanced tumor diseases, resistance is almost always developing. The tumors begin to grow again despite therapy. The researchers therefore want to comprehensively analyze the biological processes in tumors by means of functional genetic testing and identify possible weak points that could represent targets for new drugs. The cluster has identified three key research areas for this purpose:

  •   Functional target identification and molecular tumor therapies
  •   Immunotherapy
  •  Molecular and functional multiparametric imaging

Three excellent research areas

Functional target identification and molecular tumor therapies

Immunotherapy

Molecular and functional multiparametric imaging

Functional target identification and molecular tumor therapies

"With the IFIT Cluster, we hope to make new innovative and personalized therapy concepts available to a high number of cancer patients," says Prof. Dr. Lars Zender, speaker of the iFIT Cluster.

The first research area is concerned with functional target identification and molecular tumor therapies. It is primarily concerned with functionally investigating the complex physiology of tumor cells and finding new therapies. To study the physiology of tumor cells, screening tools are available that allow to decompose biological processes into their individual components and thus to better understand them. Prof. Dr. Lars Zender and Prof. Dr. Stefan Laufer were able to contribute to a profound understanding of tumor biology and new therapies by using functional genetic screening. In order to transform these findings into new therapeutic procedures, the "Tübingen Center for Academic Drug Discovery" (TüCAD2) was established. This center is concerned with the pharmacological development of active substances.

Another important aspect of the research area is the identification of so-called "non-oncogenomes", which may have a lower tendency to develop therapy resistances. The "non-oncogenome" is defined as a genome that is involved in physiological adaptations of cancer cells due to stress. To identify these genomes, state-of-the-art imaging techniques are required, which are explained in the research area "Molecular and Functional Multiparametric Imaging".


Immunotherapy

The research area Immunotherapies addresses the question of how innovative immunotherapies can help to activate the patient's own defense system against tumor cells and thus support targeted drug thearapy. Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Rammensee, Director of the Department of Immunology at the University of Tübingen and co-spokesperson of the cluster, and his team have performed international pioneering work by elucidating the recognition mechanisms of the immune system's T cells. T cells recognize fragments from cellular proteins, so-called peptides, which are "presented" on special cell surface molecules. These peptides enable T cells to detect pathological changes in the cells. Based on these findings, the concept of individualized cancer peptide vaccination was developed. The therapeutic concept behind this is to inject those peptides that are present on cancer cells but not on normal cells into the patient together with a novel vaccine booster, also developed in Tübingen, so that the T cells of the immune system can fight the cancer.

Another strategy pursued in the cluster is to generate ready-activated T cells against such cancer-specific peptides and also against other tumor-specific structures in vitro and then administer them to patients (so-called CAR-T cells or adoptive T cell transfer). A third strategy, which has been pursued in Tübingen for decades, is to dock T cells or other immune effector cells to cancer cells using novel antibody constructs, in particular so-called bispecific antibodies. Clinical trials are already underway for all three strategies. The main focus within this research area is on overcoming specific mechanisms that cause resistance to immunotherapies, especially in solid tumors.

"One of our goals is the individual and customized development of cancer therapies through the use of personalized immunotherapy, among other things". Prof. Dr. Rammensee, co-spokesman of the iFIT cluster.

Molecular and functional multiparametric imaging

"The combined use of state-of-the-art imaging techniques enables us to develop new cancer therapies and tailor them to the individual patient." Prof. Dr. Pichler, co-spokesman of the iFIT cluster.

The research area Molecular and Functional Multiparametric Imaging deals with the question how multiparametric imaging can be further developed to achieve a quantifiable visualization of functional, molecular and immunological mechanisms of tumors. The team around Prof. Dr. Bernd Pichler, Director of Preclinical Imaging and Radiopharmacy and co-spokesman of the cluster, plays a pioneering role in the field of imaging techniques. With the development of the world's first PET/MRI device for animal experiments, the researchers have succeeded in examining complementary signals from tumors in the living organism with high resolution. The overall goal is to develop novel targeted tracers and MR biomarkers to image cellular stress and related metabolic changes of tumor cells during tumor development and after therapy.


Management of the Cluster of Excellence

Prof. Dr. Lars Zender

Chairman
Medical Oncology & Pulmonology
University Hospital Tübingen

Spokesperson (authorized to represent)

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29-83675

E-mail address: lars.zender@med.uni-tuebingen.de

Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Rammensee

Director
Interfaculty Institute for Cell Biology
Department of Immunology
University of Tübingen

Co-Spokesperson

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29-87628

E-mail address: rammensee@uni-tuebingen.de

Prof. Dr. Bernd Pichler

Director of the Department Preclinical imaging and radiopharmacy
Dean of the Medical School
University Hospital Tübingen

Co-Spokesperson

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29-83427

E-mail address: bernd.pichler@med.uni-tuebingen.de

Who's behind iFIT?

Prof. Dr. Hiltrud Brauch

Deputy Director of the Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute for Clinical Pharmacology

Phone number: +49 (0)711 8101 3705

E-mail address: hiltrud.brauch@ikp-stuttgart.de

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Prof. Dr. Leticia Quintanilla-Martinez de Fend

Leading research pathologist
Institute of Pathology
University of Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 82979

E-mail address: Leticia.Quintanilla-Fend@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Katja Schenke-Layland

Head of the Natural and Medical Sciences Institute
University of Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 85205

E-mail address: katja.schenke-layland@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Birgit Schittek

Head of Molecular Dermatology
University Dermatology Clinic
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 80832

E-mail address: birgit.schittek@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Ghazaleh Tabatabai

Medical Director
Department of Neurology with Interdisciplinary Focus on Neurooncology
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29-85018

E-mail address: ghazaleh.tabatabai@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Rupert Handgretinger

Medical Director
Department of Pediatrics I (General Pediatrics, Hematology, Oncology)
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 80894

E-mail address: christel.winkler@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Christian la Fougère

Medical Director Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 26 86553

E-mail address: christian.lafougere@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Stefan Laufer

Pharmacist
Pharmaceutical Institute
University of Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 72459

E-mail address: stefan.laufer@uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Nisar Malek

Medical Director Internal Medicine I - Gastroenterology, Gastrointestinal Oncology, Hepatology, Infectiology and Geriatrics
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 82721

E-mail address: nisar.malek@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Konstantin Nikolaou

Medical Director, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 82087

E-mail address: konstantin.nikolaou@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Alfred Nordheim

Head of the Department of Molecular Biology
University of Tübingen

Phone number: +49 07071 29 78898

E-mail address: alfred.nordheim@uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Martin Röcken

Medical Director of the University Dermatology Clinic
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 84574

E-mail address: martin.roecken@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Helmut Salih

Medical Director KKE Translational Immunology
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 83275

Fax number: +49 (0)7071 29 4391

E-mail address: helmut.salih@med.uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schölkopf

Head of Empirical Inference
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 601 551

E-mail address: sekretariat-schoelkopf@tuebingen.mpg.de

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Prof. Dr. Klaus Schulze-Osthoff

Head of the Department of Molecular Medicine
Interfaculty Institute for Biochemistry
University of Tübingen

E-mail address: klaus.schulze-osthoff@uni-tuebingen.de

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Prof. Dr. Matthias Schwab

Medical Director of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology
University Hospital Tübingen

Phone number: +49 (0)7071 29 78277

Fax number: +49 (0)7071 29 5035

E-mail address: matthias.schwab@med.uni-tuebingen.de matthias.schwab@ikp-stuttgart.de

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Press releases

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Job ads

11.02.2021

Postdoc (f/m/d) in functional immunogenomics

The earliest possible start date is April 2021 and the position is offered for 2 years with plans for a further extension.

More information
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