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frontend.sr-only_#{element.icon}: Otfried-Müller-Str. 10, 72076 Tübingen

frontend.sr-only_#{element.icon}: Auf der Morgenstelle 15, 72076 Tübingen


frontend.sr-only_#{element.icon}: +49 7071 29-82834

frontend.sr-only_#{element.icon}: +49 7071 29-4391

frontend.sr-only_#{element.icon}: PBI@med.uni-tuebingen.de


In recent years, immunotherapy, i.e. the specific induction of anti-tumor immune responses, has revolutionized the treatment of cancer. However, such immunotherapeutic approaches are not yet available for all cancer entities and many patients often do not respond or only respond for a limited time to currently available therapeutic options. Here, peptide-based immunotherapy represents a comparatively low side-effect option for inducing specific immune responses against tumor cells in patients.

Peptide-based immunotherapy offers a comparatively low side-effect option for inducing specific immune responses against tumor cells in patients. Peptides are short protein fragments that each body cell presents on its surface to the T cells of the immune system on so-called human leukocyte antigens (HLA).

Tumor cells and also virus-infected cells differ from healthy cells and thus enable the immune system to recognize them as foreign. These so-called tumor-associated peptides are the key to a targeted immune response against the tumor cells, which can be activated by peptide-based immunotherapies and thus used to fight the tumor.

However, peptide-based immunotherapy need not be limited to tumor diseases. This technique can also be used for immunization or targeted boosting of T cells in viral infections.

Research focus

Research focus

The research area of our department has three main focuses:

Mass spectrometry

For the identification of HLA-presented peptides, we employ tissue or cell samples from patients or healthy donors as well as cell lines cultivated in the laboratory. In the lab, we can isolate the peptides from the surface of the cells and then utilize mass spectrometry, which allows us to identify these HLA-presented peptides. By comparing healthy tissue with tumor tissue, we can then identify those peptides that are highly abundant and exclusively presented on tumor cells but never on healthy tissue. In addition, we use label-free quantification to investigate the dynamic changes of the immunopeptidome under specific tumor therapies and cell stress mechanisms with the aim to develop new combinatorial therapeutic strategies.

For mass spectrometric immunopeptidome analysis, two state-of-the-art mass spectrometers are currently available (Orbitrap Fusion Lumos and Q-Exactive HF) as well as a new timsTOF Pro instrument, which allows high-throughput measurements of large numbers of samples and a sensitive analysis of the immunopeptidome.
T cells

For the further development of peptide-based immunotherapies, it is important to characterize the previously identified tumor-associated peptides, i.e. to determine whether they are recognized by and can activate peptide-specific T cells. This includes the investigation of the general functionality of the T cell compartment in tumor patients and its modulation by other therapies as well as the detailed characterization of antigen-specific T cell responses down to the single cell level.

For this purpose, we use various state-of-the-art methods and procedures of T cell analysis such as ELISpot assays and flow cytometry.

The bioinformatic team has an important role in our department as it processes our highly complex data generated by mass spectrometry and other omics technologies (genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, etc). Using existing and novel approaches, it assists us in identifying potential new immunotherapy targets. In addition, members of the team work closely with the Center for Quantitative Biology. This collaboration allows us to use and further co-develop validated bioinformatics workflows, which are then freely available to other researchers.

Current research projects

Current research projects


T-cell-based immunity not only plays an important role in tumor diseases, but is also crucial for the defense against viral infections.

Learn more

Tumor diseases

The main focus of the Peptide-based Immunotherapy Department is the development of clinically effective peptide-based vaccination approaches for tumor patients.

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Publications and prices

Publications and awards

  • 2023

    Elevated SARS-CoV-2-Specific Antibody Levels in Patients with Post-COVID Syndrome

    Hackenbruch C, Maringer Y, Tegeler CM, Walz JS, Nelde A, Heitmann JS.

    Viruses 2023, 15(3), 701

  • 2023

    Antibody Binding and Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 Binding Inhibition Is Significantly Reduced for Both the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron Variants

    Junker D, Becker M, Wagner TR, Kaiser PD, Maier S, Grimm TM, Griesbaum J, Marsall P, Gruber J, Traenkle B, Heinzel C, Pinilla YT, Held J, Fendel R, Kreidenweiss A, Nelde A, Maringer Y, Schroeder S, Walz JS, Althaus K, Uzun G, Mikus M, Bakchoul T, Schenke-Layland K, Bunk S, Haeberle H, Göpel S, Bitzer M, Renk H, Remppis J, Engel C, Franz AR, Harries M, Kessel B, Lange B, Strengert M, Krause G, Zeck A, Rothbauer U, Dulovic A, Schneiderhan-Marra N.

    Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Feb 8;76(3):e240-e249

  • 2023

    The HLA ligandome of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas reveals shared tumour-exclusive peptides for semi-personalised vaccination

    Mühlenbruch L, Abou-Kors T, Dubbelaar ML, Bichmann L, Kohlbacher O, Bens M, Thomas J, Ezić J, Kraus JM, Kestler HA, von Witzleben A, Mytilineos J, Fürst D, Engelhardt D, Doescher J, Greve J, Schuler PJ, Theodoraki MN, Brunner C, Hoffmann TK, Rammensee HG, Walz JS, Laban S.

    Br J Cancer. 2023 Feb 23:1-11

  • 2023

    Viral T-cell epitopes - Identification, characterization and clinical application

    Schroeder S.M, Nelde A, Walz JS.

    Elsevier, 2023 Jan 25;66:101725

  • 2022

    Prevalence of COVID-19-associated symptoms during acute infection in relation to SARS-CoV-2-directed humoral and cellular immune responses in a mild-diseased convalescent cohort

    Tegeler CM, Bilich T, Maringer Y, Salih HR, Walz JS, Nelde A, Heitmann JS.

    Int J Infect Dis. 2022 Jul;120:187-195

  • 2022

    Durable spike-specific T cell responses after different COVID-19 vaccination regimens are not further enhanced by booster vaccination

    Maringer Y, Nelde A, Schroeder SM, Schuhmacher J, Hörber S, Peter A, Karbach J, Jäger E, Walz JS.

    Sci Immunol. 2022 Dec 23;7(78):eadd3899

  • 2022

    Increased soluble HLA in COVID-19 present a disease-related, diverse immunopeptidome associated with T cell immunity

    Nelde A, Rieth J, Roerden M, Dubbelaar ML, Hoenisch Gravel N, Bauer J, Klein R, Hoheisel T, Mahrhofer H, Göpel S, Bitzer M, Hörber S, Peter A, Heitmann JS, Walz JS.

    iScience. 2022 Dec 22;25(12):105643

  • 2022

    The oncogenic fusion protein DNAJB1-PRKACA can be specifically targeted by peptide-based immunotherapy in fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.

    Bauer J, Köhler N, Maringer Y, Bucher P, Bilich T, Zwick M, Dicks S, Nelde A, Dubbelaar M, Scheid J, Wacker M, Heitmann JS, Schroeder S, Rieth J, Denk M, Richter M, Klein R, Bonzheim I, Luibrand J, Holzer U, Ebinger M, Brecht IB, Bitzer M, Boerries M, Feucht J, Salih HR, Rammensee HG, Hailfinger S, Walz JS.

    Nat Commun. 2022 Oct 27;13(1):6401

  • 2022

    Immunopeptidome Diversity in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Identifies Patients with Favorable Disease Outcome

    Marconato M, Maringer Y, Walz JS, Nelde A, Heitmann JS.

    Cancers (Basel). 2022 Sep 25;14(19):4659

  • 2022

    HLA-DR Presentation of the Tumor Antigen MSLN Associates with Clinical Outcome of Ovarian Cancer Patients.

    Tegeler CM, Scheid J, Rammensee HG, Salih HR, Walz JS, Heitmann JS, Nelde A.

    Cancers (Basel). 2022. Apr 30;14(9):2260.

  • 2022

    Upstream open reading frames regulate translation of cancer-associated transcripts and encode HLA-presented immunogenic tumor antigens.

    Nelde A*, Flötotto L*, Jürgens L, Szymik L, Hubert E, Bauer J, Schliemann C, Kessler T, Lenz G, Rammensee HG, Walz JS*, Wethmar K*.

    Cellular and Molecular Life Science. 2022. Mar;79(3):171.

    *Authors contributed equally to this work.

  • 2021

    A COVID-19 peptide vaccine for the induction of SARS-CoV-2 T cell immunity.

    Heitmann JS*, Bilich T*, Tandler C*, Nelde A, Maringer Y, Marconato M, Reusch J, Jäger S, Denk M, Richter M, Anton L, Weber LM, Roerden M, Bauer J, Rieth J, Wacker M, Hörber S, Peter A, Meisner C, Fischer I, Löffler MW, Karbach J, Jäger E, Klein R, Rammensee HG, Salih HR, Walz JS.

    Nature. 2021: 1-9.

    *Authors contributed equally to this work.

  • 2021

    Immunopeptidomics-Guided Warehouse Design for Peptide-Based Immunotherapy in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

    Nelde A*, Maringer Y*, Bilich T, Salih HR, Roerden M, Heitmann JS, Marcu A, Bauer J, Neidert MC, Denzlinger C, Illerhaus G, Aulitzky WE, Rammensee HG, Walz JS.

    Front Immunol 2021; 12:2731

    *Authors contributed equally to this work.

  • 2021

    Preexisting and Post-COVID-19 Immune Responses to SARS-CoV-2 in Patients with Cancer.

    Bilich T*, Roerden M*, Maringer Y, Nelde A, Heitmann JS, Dubbelaar ML, Peter A, Horber S, Bauer J, Rieth J, Wacker M, Berner F, Flatz L, Held S, Brossart P, Märklin M, Wagner P, Erne E, Klein R, Rammensee H-G, Salih HR, Walz JS.

    Cancer Discovery. 2021 Aug 1; (11) (8) 1982-1995.

    *Authors contributed equally to this work.

  • 2021

    T cell and antibody kinetics delineate SARS-CoV-2 peptides mediating long-term immune responses in COVID-19 convalescent individuals.

    Bilich T*, Nelde A*, Heitmann JS*, Maringer Y, Roerden M, Bauer J, Rieth J, Wacker M, Peter A, Hörber S, Rachfalski D, Märklin M, Stevanović S, Rammensee HG, Salih HR, Walz JS.

    Sci Transl Med 2021; Apr 21;13(590):eabf7517

    *Authors contributed equally to this work.

  • 2021

    SARS-CoV-2-derived peptides define heterologous and COVID-19-induced T-cell recognition.

    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 M, 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.

    Nature Immunology 2021; 22(1):74-85.

    *Authors contributed equally to this work.

  • 2020

    Mass spectrometry-based identification of a BCMA-derived T-cell epitope for antigen-specific immunotherapy in multiple myeloma.

    Bilich T, Nelde A, Bauer J, Walz S, Roerden M, Salih HR, Weisel K, Besemer B, Marcu A, Lübke M, Schuhmacher J, Neidert MC, Rammensee H-G, Stevanović S, and Walz JS.

    Blood Cancer J 2020; 10(2):24.

  • 2019

    The HLA ligandome landscape of chronic myeloid leukemia delineates novel T-cell epitopes for immunotherapy.

    Bilich T*, Nelde A*, Bichmann L, Roerden M, Salih HR, Kowalewski DJ, Schuster H, Tsou CC, Marcu A, Neidert MC, Lübke M, Rieth J, Schemionek M, Brümmendorf TH, Vucinic V, Niederwieser D, Bauer J, Märklin M, Peper JK, Klein R, Kohlbacher O, Kanz L, Rammensee HG, Stevanović S, and Walz JS.

    Blood 2019; 133 (6): 550-565.

    *Authors contributed equally to this work.

  • 2016

    Carfilzomib alters the HLA-presented peptidome of myeloma cells and impairs presentation of peptides with aromatic C-termini.

    Kowalewski DJ, Walz S, Backert L, Schuster H, Kohlbacher O, Weisel K, Rittig SM, Kanz L, Salih HR, Rammensee HG, Stevanović S, Stickel JS.

    Blood Cancer J. 2016 Apr 8;6(4):e411.

  • 2015

    The antigenic landscape of multiple myeloma: mass spectrometry (re)defines targets for T-cell-based immunotherapy.

    Walz S, Stickel JS, Kowalewski DJ, Schuster H, Weisel K, Backert L, Kahn S, Nelde A, Stroh T, Kohlbacher O, Kanz L, Salih HR, Rammensee HG, Stevanovic S.

    Blood 2015; 126:1203-13.

  • 2015

    HLA ligandome analysis identifies the underlying specificities of spontaneous antileukemia immune responses in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

    Kowalewski DJ, Schuster H, Backert L, Berlin C, Kahn S, Kanz L, Salih HR, Rammensee HG, Stevanovic S, Stickel JS.

    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jan 13;112(2):E166-75.

  • 2015

    Mapping the HLA ligandome landscape of acute myeloid leukemia: a targeted approach toward peptide-based immunotherapy.

    Berlin C, Kowalewski DJ, Schuster H, Mirza N, Walz S, Handel M, Schmid-Horch B, Salih HR, Kanz L, Rammensee HG, Stevanović S, Stickel JS.

    Leukemia. 2015 Mar;29(3):647-59.

  • 2022

    International Immunocompromised Host Society (ICHS) Takeda Virology Award an Juliane Walz

  • 2022

    Best Abstract Award, DGHO, Wien an Juliane Walz

  • 2021

    Best Abstract Award DGHO Jahrestagung Berlin an Juliane Walz

  • 2020

    Promotionspreis der Reinhold-und-Maria-Teufel-Stiftung an Annika Nelde

  • 2020

    „Poster Award“ of the University Tübingen, research colloquium an Juliane Walz

  • 2018

    „Posterpreis“ DGHO Wien an Juliane Walz

  • 2018

    Young Investigator Preis der DGHO an Annika Nelde

  • 2017

    “Posterpreis“ of the University Tübingen, research colloquium an Juliane Walz

  • 2016

    Young Investigator Award DGHO Leipzig an Juliane Walz

  • 2015

    "Posterpreis“ DGHO Basel an Juliane Walz

  • 2015

    Württembergischer Krebspreis an Juliane Walz

  • 2014

    Abstract Achievement Award American Society of Hematology an Juliane Walz

  • 2013

    Abstract Achievement Award American Society of Hematology an Juliane Walz

  • 2012

    Abstract Achievement Award American Society of Hematology an Juliane Walz

  • 2011

    Promotionspreis der Universität Tübingen an Juliane Walz

  • 2011

    Ludolf Krehl Promotionspreis der Süddeutschen Gesellschaft für Innere Medizin an Juliane Walz

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