Autoimmune diseases and cancer have highly interesting parallels that can be used for novel therapeutic approaches. Tumors that originate from endocrine (hormone-producing) organs such as the thyroid gland, the parathyroid gland, the pituitary gland or the gastrointestinal tract are often characterized by excessive hormone production and frequently retain the functional and molecular properties of their originating organ.
Of the much more common autoimmune diseases against endocrine organs (e.g. type 1 diabetes), it is known that the body's own antibodies often completely destroy hormone-producing cells. This principle is now used to attack endocrine tumors from the same cellular origin with specific immunotherapies, similar to autoimmune diseases. This destroys the entire organ. In contrast to other vital organs, however, the function of endocrine organs can be restored by modern hormone replacement.
The consortium, consisting of 14 research groups from four institutions, is thus taking an elegant path towards a very effective, specific and safe therapy.
Immuno-TargET has been a HMZ Flagship Project since 2019.