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Theurich Lab - Research

Complex metabolic networks generate and transform energy and building blocks for cellular fitness, function and growth. Whereas the basic biochemical principles of metabolism have been uncovered in the last century, in-depth understanding of cell specific mechanisms and their impact on the regulation of immune response and cancer biology has emerged only recently. Metabolic and immunologic alterations have now been acknowledged as “emerging hallmarks of cancer”, and it is accepted that certain types of cancer are associated with metabolic disturbances such as obesity – an increasing health burden worldwide. Our research group aims to understand the reciprocal interactions of cytotoxic immune cells and cancer on a metabolic level, and how metabolic host factors impact on these processes. Using basic lab methodologies and translational approaches we ultimately intend to develop novel immunometabolic strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer as well as to understand and modulate the individual contributing host factors.

Future Directions
Based on our previous work, we will analyze the specific role of NK cell subsets in obesity associated cancers as well as to investigate strategies to modulate specific energy metabolism pathways in cytotoxic immune cells for improved anti-cancer activities. To this end, we will employ cutting edge single cell resolution technologies as well as metabolomics with our cooperation partners.
On a clinical level, we aim to implement personalized metabolic interventions for cancer patients into routine practice. Therefore, our group together with our collaborators at the University Hospital Cologne just initiated a multicenter investigator-initiated prospective clinical trial supported by the “Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss” to investigate a combined nutrition and exercise program during cancer treatment (“INTEGRATION Programm”). https://innovationsfonds.g-ba.de/