WG Experimental Oncology

Head: Prof. Dr. Gunhild von Amsberg

The "Experimental Oncology" working group investigates new therapeutic approaches for the drug treatment of solid and hematologic cancers.

The focus of our interest is the testing of novel cytotoxic agents from marine life forms. These substances are obtained from organisms that live on the seabed and have had to adapt to very specific living conditions. They are often unable to move independently. In order to protect themselves against predators, they produce highly toxic substances. We would like to make use of these substances in the fight against cancer.

Research into marine toxins has already led to the clinical establishment of several cytostatic drugs (cytarabine, eribulin, trabectedin) in the past. Novel molecular mechanisms of action enable improved efficacy even in difficult-to-treat entities such as metastatic soft tissue sarcoma. Further research into marine toxins is therefore very promising.

Our research group is currently investigating several marine agents in tumor models of urogenital tumors. The aim of the investigations is to characterize the molecular mechanism of action of these substances and to determine their efficacy and toxicity in vivo. Various molecular biological methods (cytotoxicity assays, FACS analysis, Western blotting, 2D gel electrophoresis, RT-PCR, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy) and xenograft tumor models are used for this purpose. One result of particular relevance is the ability of marine substances to overcome resistance to standard tumor therapies.

The aim is to characterize and further develop the marine substances so comprehensively that they can be tested in clinical trials for refractory urogenital and haematological neoplasms and thus made available to patients.

Clinical background:

To date, only palliative treatment options exist for metastatic prostate cancer and metastatic urothelial carcinoma. After failure of the established substances (hormone therapy, chemotherapy), there is a lack of alternative drug treatment options. In view of the limited treatment options and increasing incidence, new therapies are therefore urgently needed for both diseases.

Metastatic germ cell tumors can be permanently cured with cisplatin-based chemotherapy in the vast majority of cases. Unfortunately, in some patients the tumor cells become resistant to cisplatin. For this group of patients with multiple relapsed or refractory germ cell tumors, there is no sufficiently effective therapy and a cure is very rarely possible. Germ cell tumors mostly affect young men between the ages of 20 and 35, and this is the most common cause of tumor-related death in this age group. Research into new treatment options for this tumor disease is therefore also of great interest.

Cooperation partner:

  • Prof. Dr. Stonik, Pacific Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Vladivostok
  • Prof. Dr. U. Schumacher, Prof. Dr. T. Lange, Institute of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology, UKE
  • Prof. Dr. Kerstin Amann, Institute of Pathology, University of Erlangen
  • Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dr. Friedemann Honecker, ZeTuP, St. Gallen, Switzerland
  • Dr. Simone Venz, Prof. Dr. Reinhard Walther, Institute of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Greifswald, Germany
  • Dr. Igor Kasheverov, Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Moscow
  • Dr. Dr. Stefan Balabanov,Department of Hematology, University Hospital Zurich


Tobias Busenbender (Physican)
PD Dr. Sergey Dyshlovoy (Postdoc)
Jessica Hauschild (MTA)
Moritz Kaune (Physican)
Tina Rohlfing (MTA)


University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
II Medical Clinic and Polyclinic
Oncology, Hematology, Bone Marrow Transplantation with the Department of Pneumology
Campus Research (N27), 4th floor, room 082/091
Martinistr. 52
20246 Hamburg


+49 (0)40 7410 -57774


+49 (0)40 7410 -55896