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Funded - Dr. Laura Surace from the Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology
© Foto: Universitätsklinikum Bonn

News categories: Honors & Funding

Fighting cancer cells with immune cells

German Cancer Aid funds researchers at the University of Bonn with 800,000 euros

The research group led by Dr. Laura Surace at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology at the University Hospital Bonn has received funding from the German Cancer Aid through the Max Eder Junior Research Group Program. The program was established to specifically support the research of up-and-coming young oncologists. This is intended to benefit not only the field of oncology, but also the training of the researchers. Surace joins a group of around 30 young scientists who are being supported throughout Germany.

Dr. Laura Surace and her research group focus on methods of immune-based cancer therapy. This involves supporting patients' immune systems in such a way that they are able to independently recognize malignant tumors as such, attack them and ultimately destroy them. Researchers have been able to report major leaps forward in cancer therapy with this treatment method in recent years. A key problem with this method, however, is that the effectiveness of treatment varies widely for reasons that remain unclear.

Pursuing new approaches

To solve this conundrum, Surace's research group is blazing a new trail within the field. Until now, tumor-infiltrating T cells have been the focus of research. In contrast, Surace and her colleagues are focusing their research on the recently discovered Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILCs). These are a specific type of lymphocyte that they have found also infiltrate tumors. These special cells are part of the tissue and are largely responsible for maintaining the metabolism between the cells.

The researchers hope to gain new insights by closely studying the metabolism of the cells within the so-called tumor microenvironment. To do this, they are using a variety of methods. These include measurement techniques such as mass spectrometry and flow cytometry, as well as other imaging techniques. Laura Surace is confident: "Our research will not only help identify biomarkers for tumor progression and treatment efficacy, but also help define new metabolic targets for innovative therapies."

Via detours to Bonn

Laura Surace began her academic career with bachelor's and master's degrees in biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics at the University of Pavia in Italy. Subsequently, the native Italian earned her PhD in tumor immunology at the University of Zurich. After working at the Institute Pasteur in Paris for five years, she has been teaching and conducting research at the University of Bonn since 2021.

"We were delighted with the positive news and are extremely happy to have such a talented scientist in our ranks," says Prof. Dr. Bernd Weber, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bonn.


Dr. Laura Surace
Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology
University Hospital Bonn

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