Konjetzny Award 2006 from the Hamburg Cancer Society goes to two HPI scientists.

Thursday, 07. December 2006

Dr. Daniel Speidel, scientist at HPI and Professor Dr. Wolfgang Deppert, director of the department for tumor virology at HPI, received the Georg-Ernst-Konjetzny Award 2006 for their study on the selective answer related to the tumor suppressor p53 on cell damaging influences, which, for example, occur during chemical or radiation therapy. Prof. Dr. Zander, vice-chairman of the Hamburg Cancer society and director of the department for bone marrow transplantation at Hamburg University Hospital (UKE) presented the award on December 7, 2006 at 4:30 pm in the Erika-House auditorium on the grounds of the Hamburg University Hospital. The HPI researchers shared the 10,000 Euro award with PD Dr. med. Katrin Lamszus (Clinic for neural-surgery at the UKE).

The activation of controlled cell death (apoptosis) in tumors is the primary therapeutic goal in the treatment of cancer patients during chemical or radiation therapy. Thus, the tumor suppressor p53 plays a key note in the development and improvement of new treatment concepts. P53 is activated by sundry stimuli which damage the genotype and is considered the main interceder of the cellular answer to chemical or radiation therapy. For one - p53 induces, as therapeutically desired, the programmed cell death (apoptosis) by means of certain methods of treatment and thus, actuates the destruction of cancer cells. On the other hand, however, p53, under certain circumstances, is able to protect cells, in spite of the most severe DNA damage, against the programmed cell death and thereby contribute to therapy resistance. 
A complete understanding of the process in which p53 controls the various cell programs is of paramount importance in the development of feasible methods of cancer therapy.
Dr. Speidel and Prof. Dr. Deppert describe in their outstanding work, which molecular mechanisms these contrasting activities of p53 are based on. (Oncogene 25, 940-953, 2006)
The cell protecting influence of p53 is realized in the cell nucleus: p53 adheres, thereby, to the DNA and is thus able to regulate other genes. Contrarily, the second effect of p53 in causing cell death is realized outside the cell nucleus in the so-called  cytoplasm. This effect is not precipitated through the cohesion of p53 to DNA, but is based, rather, on a direct activation of the BAX-proteins in certain types of cells which actuates apoptosis. By means of a course of regulated influence on p53, the HPI researchers succeeded in transmuting its cell protecting effect to a cell death actuating effect. These scientific findings are contributing to better overcoming resistance in tumor therapy in the future.
The Georg-Ernst-Konjetzny Award by the Hamburg cancer Society is awarded in Hamburg for outstanding research in the battle against cancer.

Dr. Angela Homfeld (Press and public relations work, HPI, angela.homfeld@hpi.uni-hamburg.de) Tel.: 0049/40/48051-108

For further information: Dr. Daniel Speidel, daniel.speidel(at)hpi.uni-hamburg.de