The translational cancer research program in Frankfurt has five overarching infrastructural platforms: Proteomics & Functional Genomics, Immuno-oncology, Preclinical Models, Drug Development & Cellular Therapies, and Biobanking & Clinical Trials.
More specifically, this includes the following technologies:
The major scope of the proteomics core unit is the identification of diagnostic and predictive biomarkers, the discovery of potential drug targets, as well as the elucidation of oncogenic signaling processes. The main activities of the proteomics unit, which was established in Frankfurt as an initiative of the DKTK and FCI relate to translational research topics in the field of acute leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, rectal cancer and brain tumors.
In the last years, high-throughput sequencing (HTS) has become an integral part of translational cancer research. The DKTK Cancer Genomics & Epigenomics Core Facility was established in 2014 to respond to the growing demand for HTS services from researchers and clinicians at the Goethe University faculty of medicine. The core unit offers access to state-of-the-art equipment for high-throughput sequencing/next-generation sequencing and whole-genome methylation analysis.
Since the advance of immune-based cancer therapy in the clinic, monitoring the immune status of patients has been increasingly recognized as a critical prognostic parameter. Moreover, prospective clinical and pre-clinical studies are now expected to document immune parameters. In order to respond to this need, the FCI Immunomonitoring Platform (IMP) has been initiated, with the goal to provide immune monitoring techniques developed by the members of the initiative available to FCI and DKTK researchers and clinicians.
The identification of the 3D structure of proteins, DNA, RNA and their complexes has a central role in drug development to understand the molecular function of drugs and their interaction partners in cancer patients. With the Center for Biomolecular Resonance (BMRZ), the Cancer Structural Biology Platform at the DKTK partner site Frankfurt/Mainz has one of the world’s largest centers for NMR-based structural biology (more information on the NMR service center is available here).
This platform provides a multitude of imaging technologies for research. These are amongst others a 7T-MRT, a confocal spinning disc microscope, a confocal microscope, several fluorescence and light microscopes as well as image processing stations.
The Transgenic Core Facility (TCF) provides a central resource for generating mouse models to understand human disease and support the development of new therapies. We provide comprehensive support from transgenic design to mouse model generation, depending on the needs of the researchers. We use the full toolbox of CRISPR/Cas9 applications to generate complex genomic mice. In addition, TCF offers standard services such as resuscitation, sperm testing and mouse line conservation.
The UCT Biobank as our central sample collection unifies preparation and storage of cancer patient samples and data and provides tools for researchers to identify patient cohorts for clinical trials. Additionally, the UCT Biobank supports clinical trials with the preparation and storage of high quality samples.
Along with the preservation of residual tissue samples and liquid samples from cancer patients, some tissue samples such as those from colon cancer patients are routinely cultured into cancer organoids that are also available for further research. Tumor organoids have been recognized as useful models for preclinical research.
As part of the UCT Biobank, the Organoid Biobank at the Georg-Speyer-Haus provides access to standardized protocols for cultivation of human organoids as well as to primary cell models for scientists to address their individual research questions.