Faculty of Medicine

Hot on the trail of immortal tumour cells – new genome mutation discovered in tumours

A neuroblastoma is a tumour whose cells are stuck in an immature state. It is particularly widespread amongst child cancer patients and is even fatal in 15 per cent of cases. Genetic investigations involving the Faculty of Medicine have now shed some light on the previously unknown mechanism that allowed these tumour cells to become immortal and thereby disrupt the body’s defences. In cooperation with colleagues from the university clinics of Cologne, Heidelberg and Berlin, UDE researchers discovered that the protein telomerase was activated by mutations in tumour genomes of patients with high-risk neuroblastomas. As a result, tumour cells were capable of dividing indefinitely.