Werner-Otto Foundation Award: Researchers at HPI successful

Wednesday, 21. November 2001

This year’s Werner-Otto-Foundation Award for the advancement of medical research went to two scientists from the Heinrich-Pette-Institute. Dr. Thomas Hofmann and Dr. Hüseyin Sirma conclusively convinced the Foundation’s board of trustees with their work concerning the regulation of cell propagation and controlled cell death and were presented the 15,000 Euro award for research performed in institutes on November 21, 2001.

Their work could prove to be the basis for the development of new and urgently needed methods of cancer therapy. “We have detected something which actively supports the protein p53 in its function as “bodyguard for the genome”, explained Dr. Sirma.

Both Hamburg scientists have discovered an enzyme which plays an important role in the so-called cell death (Apoptosis) – a complex process, in which diseased or damaged cells are eliminated from the organism. The protein p53 plays a key role in this process.
It was already possible to demonstrate experimentally that the recently discovered enzyme adheres to p53, is therewith modified and thus leads to an increased extermination of tumor cells. In the long term, clinical application of the two scientists’ results could prove to be a beneficial advance. In Dr. Hofmann’s opinion: "My greatest wish is that this new discovery will contribute to improved methods of tumor diagnosis and therapy."