Immunotherapy – Oncology

The unit encompasses two major interest areas in the field of immunotherapy:

  1. Preventive and therapeutic strategies based on IgY chicken antibodies and their immunomodulatory properties
  2. Enhancement of current cancer treatment

Antimicrobials based on IgY technology

Basic steps of IgY production against pathogens and differences between avian IgY and mammalian IgG
© Photo Fraunhofer IZI

Basic steps of IgY production against pathogens and differences between avian IgY and mammalian IgG

Chicken eggs are alternative source of antibodies to mammals. Polyclonal IgYs, originally produced by avian as a humoral immune for the newly hatched offspring, have many advantages over mammalian IgGs:

  • IgYs do not lead to allergic reactions
  • Cheap, fast and effective production (9,4–25 mg/ml of egg yolk, homogenous IgY population)
  • High stability (pH 3,5–11, 30–70 °C)
  • High avidity
  • Low cross reactivity
  • Non-invasive method of production (collected in egg yolk)
  • IgYs can be produced against conserved mammalian proteins

In our research group we use IgYs to build up effective strategies for both prevention and eradication of pathogenic infections (including microorganism such as E. coli, S. epidermidis, C. albicans). We offer a platform for customized IgY production in the field of food additives, oral therapy, disinfectants and antiseptics.

As we are facing now the post-antibiotic era, where resistance grows faster than new antibiotic discoveries, using IgY technology brings us the chance to overcome the worldwide problem of multiresistant pathogens.

Tumor immunology and cancer treatment

HT29 cancer cells culture
© Photo Fraunhofer IZI

HT29 cancer cells culture

Cancer arises from a change in one single cell which leads to uncontrolled multiplication and spreading of cells. This multistage process that turns a normal cell into a tumor cell and in consequence builds different kinds of neoplasm, is based on the interaction between genetic background of the patient and external factors like physical, chemical and biological carcinogens. We would like to uncover the mysteries of complicated tumor immunology, to re-engineer the immune system of a host for a better protection and fight against cancer.

In this regard, our unit focuses on fast drug screening and pre-clinical evaluations based on the Xenograft CAM Assay. Its readout provides the information a therapy’s efficacy, considering: changes in tumor volume, metastasisation rate into distinct organs, vascularization and embryo toxicity. We offer a system with GFP-expressing human cell lines including mammary carcinoma, colon carcinoma and melanoma.

In parallel, we focus on the development of highly specific monoclonal IgYs against human cancer cells. For instance, we investigate immunomodulatory properties of IgY chicken antibodies against gastro-intestinal cancer.

  • Oelkrug C, Sack U, Boldt A, Nascimento IC, Ulrich H, Fricke S. Antibody- and aptamer-strategies for GvHD prevention. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 2015 Jan;19(1):11-20. DOI:
  • Fricke S, Hilger N, Fricke C, Schönfelder U, Behre G, Ruschpler P, Boldt A, Oelkrug C, Sack U, Emmrich F. Prevention of graft-versus-host-disease with preserved graft-versus-leukemia-effect by ex vivo and in vivo modulation of CD4(+) T-cells. Cellular and Molecular Life Science. 2014 Jun;71(11):2135-48.DOI:
  • Oelkrug C, Hilger N, Schönfelder U, Boltze J, Sack U, Fricke C, Hildebrandt G, Keller T, Emmrich F, Fricke S. Modelling hematological parameters after total body irradiation. International Journal of Radiation Biology. 2014 Jul;90(7):538-46.DOI:
  • Oelkrug C, Lange CM, Wenzel E, Fricke S, Hartke M, Simasi J, Schubert A. Analysis of the tumoricidal and anti-cachectic potential of curcumin. Anticancer Research. 2014 Sep;34(9):4781-8.
  • Oelkrug C, Ramage JM. Enhancement of T cell recruitment and infiltration into tumours. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2014 Oct;178(1):1-8. DOI
  • Reinhardt A, Horn M, Pieper J gen. Schmauck, Bröhl A, Giernoth R, Oelkrug C, Schubert A, Neundorf I. Novel imidazolium salt-peptide conjugates and their antimicrobial activity. Bioconjugate Chemistry. 2014 Dec 17;25(12):2166-74. DOI
  • Simasi J, Oelkrug C, Schubert A, Nieber K, Gillissen A. The role of BIM-EL and BCL2-? on the efficacy of erlotinib and gefitinib in lung cancer. Respiratory Physiology and Neurobioly. 2014 Oct 6. pii: S1569-9048(14):259-6.DOI:
  • Simasi J, Schubert A, Oelkrug C, Gillissen A, Nieber K. Primary and secondary resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in lung cancer. Anticancer Research. 2014 Jun;34(6):2841-50.
  • Fricke S, Rothe K, Hilger N, Ackermann M, Oelkrug C, Fricke C, Schönfelder U, Niederwieser D, Emmrich F, Sack U. Allogeneic bone marrow grafts with high levels of CD4(+) CD25(+) FoxP3(+) T cells can lead to engraftment failure. Cytometry A. 81 (2012), 6, S. 476-88. DOI
  • Fricke S, Fricke C, Oelkrug C, Blatz R, Schönfelder U, Niederwieser D, Hilger N, Ruhnke M, Rodloff AC. A real-time PCR for the detection and characterisation of Aspergillus species. Mycoses. 2011 Dec 11. DOI [Epub ahead of print]
  • Fricke S, Fricke C, Oelkrug C, Hilger N, Schönfelder U, Kamprad M, Lehmann J, Boltze J, Emmrich F, Sack U. Characterization of murine non-adherent bone marrow cells leading to recovery of endogenous hematopoiesis. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2010 Dec;67(23):4095-106. Epub 2010 Jun 18.
  • Fricke S, Fricke C, Schimmelpfennig C, Oelkrug C, Schönfelder U, Blatz R, Zilch C, Faber S, Hilger N, Ruhnke M, Rodloff AC. A real-time PCR assay for the differentiation of Candida species. J Appl Microbiol. 2010 Oct;109(4):1150-8. DOI Epub 2010 Aug 19.