Clinical Cancer Research - International Prize for Translational Neuroscience 2021

Heidelberg University Hospital - Precisely marking brain tumors

Prof. Dr. Andreas von Deimling
Prof. Dr. Andreas von Deimling

Prof. Dr. Andreas von Deimling is researching new methods for the precise diagnosis of brain tumors at Heidelberg University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center. He has now been awarded the "International Prize for Translational Neuroscience" of the Gertrud Reemtsma Foundation for his work. He shares the €60,000 prize with neuro-oncologist Dr. Hai Yan from Duke University School of Medicine, USA. Prof. von Deimling's team developed a customized antibody, an artificially produced protein of the immune system, which binds as a marker to an important tumor protein of so-called gliomas. This makes it possible to better classify these particularly aggressive brain tumors and to adapt the therapy accordingly. The current World Health Organization (WHO) tumor classification of gliomas is based on this antibody. The antibody is patented and is now routinely used worldwide in brain tumor diagnostics. The International Prize for Translational Neuroscience - formerly the K.J. Zuelch Prize - is awarded annually by the Max Planck Society to two scientists in the field of applied neuroscience.

Precise differentiation of the various tumor types is essential for appropriate therapy of brain tumors

How a tumor develops over time, how aggressively it spreads, or how it responds to therapy often depends on its cellular origin, stage, and genetic characteristics. Precise differentiation and classification can therefore be important in selecting the appropriate therapeutic approach. However, more than 100 different tumor types occur in the brain alone, some of which are difficult to distinguish from one another. For a long time, the classification of brain tumors was based mainly on the microscopic examination of tissue samples, which in some cases did not allow a clear differentiation of the various tumor types. In the meantime, tests for characteristic genetic changes and molecular properties are increasingly coming into focus. For example, the protein IDH1 is typically altered in certain subgroups of gliomas.

IDH1 protein
Example for development of a diagnostic tool. Our antibody H09 specifically binds to IDH1 protein with the R132H mutation. All tumor cells impose in strong brown color while normal brain tissue is stained blue and grey. | © dkfz.de

IDH1 antibody testing & development of a vaccine against brain tumors

Prof. von Deimling, Medical Director of the Department of Neuropathology at Heidelberg University Hospital and Head of the Clinical Cooperation Unit Neuropathology at DKFZ, developed a marker to indicate this characteristic change in the IDH1 protein in tumor samples. The highly specific antibody recognizes the mutation and binds to the protein only when precisely this change is present. "This made it possible for the first time to diagnose certain subtypes of gliomas, known as astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas, without any doubt and to distinguish them from other types of brain tumors. Before IDH1 testing, about one third of these tumors could not be correctly classified and thus could not be optimally treated," said Prof. von Deimling. In addition, his work has paved the way for the development of a vaccine against brain tumors, which is currently being tested in clinical trials. In 2016, von Deimling was already honored for the development of the IDH1 antibody with the German Cancer Award in the "Translational Research" category, i.e. for the successful translation of experimental research results into clinical practice.

More information about the treatment of brain tumors


Capper D, Zentgraf H, Balss J, Hartmann C, von Deimling A. Monoclonal Antibody Specific for IDH1 R132H Mutation.

Acta Neuropathologica 2009;118:599-601.

Platten M, Bunse L, Wick A, et al. A vaccine targeting mutant IDH1 in newly diagnosed glioma.

Nature 2021;592:463-8.

Further Infoletter and Award winner at Heidelberg University Hospital

Heidelberg University Hospital ranks among the "WORLD'S BEST HOSPITALS 2021" for the third year in row.

Award for Scientific and technical Director at Ion Beam Therapy Center HIT

German Cancer Award 2021

About Heidelberg University Hospital & Faculty of Medicine

Heidelberg University Hospital ranks among the "WORLD'S BEST HOSPITALS 2021" for the third year in row. The Heidelberg University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine: internationally are renowned for Patient care, research and teaching. Heidelberg University Hospital is one of the most important medical centers in Germany; the Heidelberg Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University is one of the internationally renowned biomedical research institutions in Europe. The common goal is the development of innovative diagnostics and therapies and their rapid implementation for patients. The hospital and faculty employ around 13,700 staff and are committed to training and qualification. In more than 50 clinical departments with almost 2,000 beds, approximately 80,000 patients are treated annually as full and partial inpatients and more than 1,000,000 patients are treated as outpatients. Together with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and German Cancer Aid, Heidelberg University Hospital has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg, which is the leading oncological center of excellence in Germany. In addition, Heidelberg University Hospital, together with the DKFZ and Heidelberg University, operates the Hopp Children's Tumor Center (KiTZ), a therapy and research center for oncological and hematological diseases in childhood and adolescence that is unique in Germany. The Heidelberg Curriculum Medicinale (HeiCuMed) is one of the top medical training programs in Germany. There are currently around 3,500 future physicians studying for their degrees and doctorates at the Heidelberg Medical Faculty.

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