Konjetzny Award 2000 for Cancer researchers at HPI

Saturday, 30. September 2000

The natural scientist Dr. Thomas Sternsdorf was presented with the Konjetzny Award 2000 by the Hamburg Cancer Society on Wednesday, November 1, 2000.

Dr. Sternsdorf and the Italian researcher Dr. Elena Puccetti, who, as co-author, is currently working in Frankfurt, received the 10,000 Euro Konjetzny Award for their outstanding research work in the field of leukemia. The presentation of the award, which took place on
November 1, 2000 at 9:30 am, was made by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kleeberg in the surgical auditorium at Eppendorf University Hospital.

The mutual work of the two scientists concerns the molecular foundation of the effect of arsenic tri-oxide applied in the treatment of a certain type of blood cancer – the so-called acute promyelocistic leukemia (APL). Dr. Sternsdorf and Dr. Puccetti have studied the effects of arsenic on a cancer inducing protein, which is engendered in APL and is to be found only in the leukemia affected cells, but not, however, in the healthy cells.

This oncogene protein reacted bio-chemically with the arsenic trioxide, resulting in the extermination of the leukemia cells. A related protein, which is produced in a rare APL variation, on the other hand, doesn’t react to arsenic treatment. The research results are not only of great significance in better understanding the molecular basis of acute promyelocistic leukemia, but additionally, have direct clinical consequences: It was ascertained that only the frequently occurring, but not the rare form of APL reacts to arsenic therapy. Consequently, arsenic should not be applied for this form of leukemia.

The Konjetzny Award is given annually by the Hamburg Cancer Society and honors research results by scientists engaged at Hamburg Institutes, who have made significant scientific contributions in cancer research and cancer therapy.