AG Ricklefs ("CNS Biomarkers")

Our laboratory is dedicated to exploring the dynamic landscape of biomarkers that offer groundbreaking insights into diagnosis and treatment strategies. Central to our focus is the study of circulating biomarkers, particularly extracellular vesicles (EVs). These nanometer-sized particles carry diverse levels of bioactive molecular information and circulate in body fluids. Tumour cells release EVs (tEVs) that can create pre-metastatic niches, promote tumour growth and angiogenesis, remodel the extracellular matrix, and facilitate tumour immune escape. Studies have also shown that the transfer of EVs between different tumour subtypes results in an elevation of pro-oncogenic signal transduction in the receiving tumour cell, ultimately leading to augmented tumour growth. EVs mirror the molecular characteristics of their tumor of origin, making them invaluable for non-invasive tumor profiling and monitoring. Analyzing the cargo of EVs, including proteins, RNA, and DNA from CNS tumors, can unlock new avenues for early detection and personalized therapy.

Alongside, we place a special emphasis on tissue molecular biomarkers, particulary DNA methylation analysis. This epigenetic mechanism plays a pivotal role in tumor development and progression. By mapping methylation patterns across various CNS tumors, we seek to uncover unique signatures that can not only aid in precise tumor classification but also highlight potential therapeutic targets. Our integrative approach in studying both circulating and tissue-specific biomarkers is designed to foster a more comprehensive understanding of CNS tumors, paving the way for innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions.

Ricklefs Research


Ricklefs Funding

Group Members

  • Amanda Salviano da Silva, postdoc
  • Richard Drexler, resident
  • Yahya Zghaibeh, doctoral student
  • Dominik Bannier, doctoral student
  • Kathrin Wollmann, doctoral student



  • Harvard Medical School, USA
  • Stanford University, USA
  • NIH, USA
  • Zürich, SUI
  • Karolinska Institue, SWE


  • Freiburg
  • Erlangen
  • Köln
  • Berlin


„MicrpRNA Signatures and Molecular Subtypes of Glioblastoma: The Role of Extracellular Transfer” Godlewski J., Ferrer-Luna R., Rooj A., Mineo M., Ricklefs F., Yuji T., Salinska E., Nakano I., Lee H., Weissleder R., Beroukhim R., Chiocca EA., Bronisz Stem Cell Rep.. 2017 Jun 6, PMID_2852869

„MicroRNA-Mediated Dynamic Bidirectional Shift between the Sublasses of Glioblastoma Stem-like Cells“. Rooj AK, Rickefs F, Mineo M, Nakano I, Chiocca EA, Bronisz A, Godlewski J, Cell Reports 2017 Jun 6, PMID28591575

„Extracellular vesicles from high grade glioma exchange diverse pro-oncogenic signals that maintain intratumoral heterogeneity.“ Ricklefs F, Mineo M, Rooj AK, Nakano I, Charest A, Weissleder R, Breakefield XO, Chiocca EA, Godlewski J, Bronisz A Cancer Research 2016 Mar 24, PMID:27013191