Malignant disease research

Development of personalized therapeutic strategies for tumor diseases in Regensburg

Personalisierte Tumortherapie
© Fraunhofer ITEM, P. Reinig

Research into metastatic disease, the development of diagnostics and pharmaceuticals is at the focus of Fraunhofer ITEM in Regensburg. The aims are to understand a patient’s individual condition, establish appropriate diagnostics, advance prevention and optimize therapies.

Special expertise

Molecular biological characterization of single cancer cells

An area of special expertise of the researchers is the molecular biological characterization of single cancer cells, which can be collected as circulating tumor cells by liquid biopsy or isolated from lymph node tissue or bone marrow as disseminated cancer cells. In order to define new treatment monitoring strategies, the liquid biopsy concept and the technology for single-cell analysis have been further developed, so that cancer cells from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can now also be isolated and analyzed.

Patient-specific therapies

For the development of patient-specific therapies, for example with monoclonal antibodies as checkpoint inhibitors and advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs), the researchers are establishing integrated testing strategies based on ex-vivo models derived from human tumor samples. In addition, they continue to enhance the high-throughput drug screening technology based on patient-specific models. The data management established at the institute and comprehensive bioinformatics enable custom-fit analyses of the generated data.

Bioprocess development and manufacture

Bioprocess development and manufacturing of novel active molecules and investigational medicinal products for treating tumor diseases is established at Fraunhofer ITEM in Braunschweig and will be further expanded by setting up a toolbox for analysis, molecular characterization and development of production cell lines. The focus is on manufacturing processes for small bi-specific single-chain antibodies (BiTEs) that bind to T cells or CART cells and lead to tumor cells being recognized by the immune system (immunotherapy).

Risk assessment

Tumorigenesis is also an issue in the risk assessment of active pharmaceutical ingredients and chemicals. Fraunhofer ITEM is developing examples of risk assessment of nongentoxic substances by means of QSAR and in-vitro models on behalf of European regulatory authorities, including EMA, ECHA and EFSA. This will further add to the institute’s existing wealth of experience in exploring and applying integrated assessment and testing strategies (IATA) – risk assessment that is in line with the principle of the 3Rs.

Malignant disease: recent projects and highlights


Acess to personalized oncology

In Coperation with "CCC Allianz WERA", we try to measured the regional outreach of respective Molecular Tumor Boards (MTBs).


Investigating early metastasis

In the Collaborative Research Center / Transregio (SFB/TRR) 305, scientists investigate the mechanisms of early colony formation of tumor cells in patient-specific model systems.


Liquid biopsy concept

Researchers of the Fraunhofer ITEM and partners are collaborating on strategies to extend the liquid biopsy concept to the analysis of CSF to facilitate the diagnosis of brain tumors.


Single-cell miRNA sequencing methods

Comparison of methods and evaluation of performance and quality using different cell lines and circulating tumor cells.

CSF diagnostics

Based on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analyses, scientists want to define pre-analytical standards for biomarker studies with CSF as well as develop molecular genetic tests.

Single-cell sequencing

Methodology for establishing biomarkers of systemic chronic diseases.

Project archive

Here you can find more projects sorted by our research and development competences. 


  • Abdin, S. M., Paasch, D., Lachmann, N. (2024). CAR macrophages on a fast track to solid tumor therapy. Nature Immunology 25(1): 11-12. doi: 10.1038/s41590-023-01696-7
  • Adler, O., Zait, Y., Cohen, N., Blazquez, R., Doron, H., Monteran, L., Scharff, Y., Shami, T., Mundhe, D., Glehr, G., Kanner, A. A., Horn, S., Yahalom, V., Haferkamp, S., Hutchinson, J. A., Bleckmann, A., Nahary, L., Benhar, I., Katz, S. Y., Pukrop, T., Erez, N. (2023). Reciprocal interactions between innate immune cells and astrocytes facilitate neuroinflammation and brain metastasis via lipocalin-2. Nat Cancer [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1038/s43018-023-00519-w
  • Agudo, J., Aguirre-Ghiso, J. A., Bhatia, M., Chodosh, L. A., Correia, A. L., Klein, C. A. (2024). Targeting cancer cell dormancy. Nature Reviews: Cancer 24: 97–104. doi: 10.1038/s41568-023-00642-x
  • Asami, M., Lam, B. Y. H., Hoffmann, M., Suzuki, T., Lu, X., Yoshida, N., Ma, M. K., Rainbow, K., Guzvic, M., VerMilyea, M. D., Yeo, G. S. H., Klein, C. A., Perry, A. C. F. (2023). A program of successive gene expression in mouse one-cell embryos. Cell Rep 42(2): 112023. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112023 - Open Access 28 February 2023
  • Feliciello, G., Czyz, Z. T., Polzer, B. M. (2024). Array-Based Comparative Genomic Hybridization for the Detection of Copy Number Alterations in Single Cells. Methods in Molecular Biology 2752: 167-187. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3621-3_11
  • Franken, A., Kraemer, A., Sicking, A., Watolla, M., Rivandi, M., Yang, L., Warfsmann, J., Polzer, B. M., Friedl, T. W. P., Meier-Stiegen, F., Stoecklein, N. H., Dayan, D., Riethdorf, S., Mueller, V., Pantel, K., Koch, A., Hartkopf, A. D., Krawczyk, N., Ruckhaeberle, E., Niederacher, D., Fehm, T., Neubauer, H. (2023). Comparative analysis of EpCAM high-expressing and low-expressing circulating tumour cells with regard to their clonal relationship and clinical value. British Journal of Cancer [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1038/s41416-023-02179-0 - Open Access 23 februar 2023
  • Hücker, S. M., Kirsch, S. (2024). Single Cell Micro RNA Sequencing Library Preparation. Methods in Molecular Biology 2752: 189-199. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3621-3_12
  • Klusa, D., Lohaus, F., Franken, A., Baumbach, M., Cojoc, M., Dowling, P., Linge, A., Offermann, A., Lock, S., Husman, D., Rivandi, M., Polzer, B., Freytag, V., Lange, T., Neubauer, H., Kucken, M., Perner, S., Holscher, T., Dubrovska, A., Krause, M., Kurth, I., Baumann, M., Peitzsch, C. (2023). Dynamics of CXCR4 positive circulating tumor cells in prostate cancer patients during radiotherapy. International Journal of Cancer [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34457 - Open Access 2 februar 2023
  • Köstler, C., Polzer, B., Alberter, B. (2024). Circulating Tumor Cell Enrichment and Single-Cell Isolation Combining the CellSearch((R)) and DEPArray Systems. Methods in Molecular Biology 2752: 11-42. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3621-3_2
  • Nowak, J., Bentele, M., Kutle, I., Zimmermann, K., Luhmann, J. L., Steinemann, D., Kloess, S., Koehl, U., Rossberg, W., Ahmed, A., Schaudien, D., Neubert, L., Kamp, J. C., Kuehnel, M. P., Warnecke, A., Schambach, A., Morgan, M. (2023). CAR-NK Cells Targeting HER1 (EGFR) Show Efficient Anti-Tumor Activity against Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC). Cancers 15(12): 3169. doi: 10.3390/cancers15123169  - Open Access
  • Reduzzi, C., Vismara, M., Schamberger, T., Silvestri, M., Motta, R., Polzer, B. M., Cappelletti, V. (2024). Isolation and Genomic Analysis of Circulating Tumor Cell Clusters in Cancer Patients. Methods in Molecular Biology 2752: 101-117. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3621-3_7
  • Treitschke, S., Weidele, K., Varadarajan, A. R., Feliciello, G., Warfsmann, J., Vorbeck, S., Polzer, B., Botteron, C., Hoffmann, M., Dechand, V., Mederer, T., Weber, F., Werner-Klein, M., Robold, T., Hofmann, H. S., Werno, C., Klein, C. A. (2023). Ex vivo expansion of lung cancer-derived disseminated cancer cells from lymph nodes identifies cells associated with metastatic progression. International Journal of Cancer [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34658 - Open Access