New Immuno-Oncology Research Project in Partnership with Merck Starts at the BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg

  • The project is aimed at developing novel approaches to enhance tumor immunogenicity to broaden the population of patients who can benefit from cancer immunotherapy.

Heidelberg, April 30, 2024. BioMed X, a German biomedical research institute, announces the start of a new research project in partnership with Merck at its site in Heidelberg, Germany. The main objective of the project is to develop novel immunotherapeutic strategies to overcome the immunosuppressive microenvironment of solid tumors.

Independent of tumor indication, the general immunogenicity of a tumor is positively correlated with a better prognosis and a more robust response to immune checkpoint blockade. The current paradigm envisions tumor mutations as one of the sources of immunogenic neoantigens, which are expressed and presented on the surface of the tumor cells and recognized by the immune system to mount an effective anti-tumor response. The main objective of this research group is to identify how the DNA damage response (DDR) can be harnessed to increase the immunogenicity of tumor cells. The final goal is to design novel therapeutic approaches that promote a favorable tumor microenvironment for immunotherapies.

Dr. Semih Akincilar, the scientist leading this project, explains: “Using colorectal cancer as a model, we will investigate the molecular pathways altered in immunogenic and non-immunogenic tumor clusters. This will help us to better understand the links between DDR and tumor immunogenicity, with significant implications for oncological treatment.”

The BioMed X Institute and Merck have been collaborating since 2013, partnering on both oncology and immunology research projects, with the end goal of developing new therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases. “With our most recent projects in collaboration with Merck and others, we are deepening our expertise in tumor immunology,” said Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of the BioMed X Institute. Further details about this project can be found on the BioMed X Institute website (