New approach to early cancer detection honored with Hugo Geiger Prize

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In her doctoral thesis, Dr. Susann Allelein from the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI investigated a new approach for the early detection of prostate cancer in particular. She was awarded the 3rd Hugo Geiger Prize 2023 on February 28, 2024. The prize, awarded by the Free State of Bavaria and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, recognizes outstanding, application-oriented doctoral theses.

Scientist in a white coat in the lab
© Fraunhofer IZI
Dr. Susann Allelein

In her doctoral thesis, Dr. Susann Allelein investigated whether extracellular vesicles can be used for the early detection of prostate cancer in particular. The membrane particles, which are only a few nanometres to millimetres in size, are important for intercellular communication. Allelein has developed a specific enrichment method with which the relevant vesicles can be magnetically separated from the irrelevant ones in urine or blood samples. She also developed an antibody microarray to analyze the necessary surface proteins on the vesicles. This allows significantly more samples and markers per sample to be analyzed than with conventional methods. Although the prostate cancer-specific protein examined was not a suitable marker, her doctoral thesis creates important prerequisites for further research with extracellular vesicles. In addition to simpler cancer diagnostics, they also offer potential for better therapy monitoring and for the production of vaccines.

The Hugo Geiger Prize was awarded at the Fraunhofer Network Value Symposium on February 28, 2024 in Munich.

More information on the two other Hugo Geiger Prize winners can be found in the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's press release.

The Hugo Geiger Prize

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology established the "Hugo Geiger Prize for Young Scientists". Every year since 1999, three outstanding application-oriented dissertations have been honored. A ten-member jury with representatives from research and development as well as industry reviews all submissions. In addition to scientific quality and economic relevance, the judging criteria include the novelty and interdisciplinary nature of the approaches. The prize is named after State Secretary Hugo Geiger, who acted as patron of the founding meeting of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft on March 26, 1949. First, second and third prizes are awarded. The prize money is 5000, 3000 and 2000 euros.