Department of Cellular Immunotherapy

Cg render of t-cells or cancer cells
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The Department of Cellular Immunotherapy researches and develops new forms of therapy for the treatment of various cancers. The focus here is on the combination of different, genetically modified immune cells within a drug with the aim of improving effectiveness and long-term efficacy. In addition, new therapeutically relevant target structures on cancer cells are identified and transferred to the application of cell-based immunotherapies. Innovative manufacturing technologies based on non-viral gene transfer are being developed and validated with the aim of reducing the costs and time required for the production of cell and gene therapeutics and increasing their general availability.

Research and development focus


Although CAR-T cell therapy has already achieved very good response rates with permanent remission in certain forms of leukemia and lymphoma, some patients experience relapses. This is usually caused by mutated leukemia cells that have lost the therapeutically relevant tumor antigen. By combining different CAR-modified immune cells, the aim is to broaden the spectrum of efficacy and overcome mechanisms that lead to tumor resistance. CAR-T cells as part of the adaptive immune system are formulated as DUETT with CAR-NK cells as part of the innate immune system. 

Optimized production process through non-viral gene transfer

The production of all currently approved CAR-T cell products is based on viral gene transfer strategies. These account for a significant proportion of the manufacturing costs and production time and are therefore a limiting factor for availability. The use of mRNA- and DNA-based gene transfer vectors should significantly shorten the production time and thus make it more cost-effective and scalable.

Expansion of the range of applications for cellular immunotherapies

CAR-T cells and CAR-NK cells directed against the tumor antigen ROR1 are being investigated as part of the research and development work. This will enable applications in various hematological cancers (e.g. chronic B-cell leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma) and solid tumors (e.g. lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, bone cancer). The aim is to develop a specific product candidate through to clinical application.