PD Dr. Adelheid Cerwenka
Phone: +49 6221-424480


Boosting natural killer cells ...


to fight against cancer.   

Innate Immunity


Our group/department has:

  • Our group Is focused on improving strategies of Immunotherapy of cancer based on Natural Killer (NK) cells (Ni et al. Oncoimmunology 2013)
  • We demonstrated that pre activation of NK cells with inflammatory cytokines leads to their improved anti-tumor activity in a mouse model (Ni et al. J Exp Med, 2012). Combination Therapy with Irradiation was crucial in this context.  Since also human NK cells possess higher anti-tumor activity when prestimulated with inflammatory cytokines, these findings are of high translational relevance.
  • We have generated mAbs directed against the tumor associated Antigen B7-H6 that are currently developed further in collaboration with Pharma Industry (Fiegler et al. Blood, 2013)
  • Within a DKFZ/MOST project we have uncovered in collaboration with our Israeli  partners that the transcription factor p53 modulates expression of activating ligands on tumor cells affecting tumor cell recognition by NK cells (Textor et al, Cancer Res, 2011)
  • The head of the group PD Dr Adelheid Cerwenka is coordinating the working group “NK cell” within the German Society of Immunology (DGfI).

2010 – 2013

  • Textor S, Fiegler N, Arnold A, Porgador A, Hofmann TG, Cerwenka A.  Human NK cells are alerted to induction of p53 in cancer cells by up-regulation of the NKG2D-ligands ULBP1 and ULBP2, Cancer Res  2011; 71(18):5998-6009
  • Ormsby T, Schlecker E, Ferdin J, Tessarz AS, Angelisová P, Köprülü AD, Borte M, Warnatz K, Schulze I, Ellmeier, Hořejší V and Cerwenka A. Btk is a positive regulator in the TREM-1/DAP12 signalling pathway. Blood 2011; 118(4):936-45
  • Schlecker E, Stojanovic A, Eisen C, Quack C, Falk CS, Umansky V, Cerwenka A. Tumor-infiltrating monocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells mediate CCR5-dependent recruitment of regulatory T cells favouring tumor growth. J Immunol 2012; 189(12):5602-5611
  • Ni J, Miller M, Stojanovic A, Garbi N, Cerwenka A. Sustained effector function of IL-12/15/18 preactivated NK cells against established tumors. J Exp Med 2012; 209(13):2351-2365
  • Fiegler N, Textor S, Arnold A, Rölle A, Oehme I, Breuhahn K, Moldenhauer G, Witzens-Harig M, Cerwenka A. Downregulation of the activating NKp30 ligand B7-H6 by HDAC inhibitors impairs tumor cell recognition by NK cells, Blood 2013; 122(5):684-93
  • 2010-2013    German-Israeli Cooperation (DKFZ-MOST): Transcriptional regulation of NKG2D and NCR-ligands
  • 2004-2010    Marie Curie Excellence Grant: Innate Immune Pathways in Mammalian cells
  • 2010-2013    German Cancer Aid, Deutsche Krebshilfe, 109174: Anlockung von hochaktiven und langlebigen Natürlichen Killerzellen in das maligne Melanom
  • 2011-2014    German Carreras Foundation, Deutsche Carreras Stiftung Leukämie-Stiftung e.V: DJCLS R 11/06: Aktivierung Natürlicher Killerzellen durch NKp30/B7-H6 bei hämatologischen Neoplasien
  • 2011-2014    Joint Project: DKFZ-Bayer Health Care
  • 2012-2014    Joint Project: DKFZ-Karolinska Institute, Role of Natural Killer cells in hepatocellular cancer (HCC) pathogenesis
  • 2013-2016    German Cancer Aid, Deutsche Krebshilfe, 110442, Generierung humaner CD8+ T Lymphozyten mit Koexpression von Antigen-spezifischen T Zell Rezeptoren und aktivierenden NK Zell Rezeptoren für die Immuntherapie gegen Krebs
  • 2013-2014    Intramural collaboration project: Arylhydrocarbon receptor mediated modulation of Natural-killer cell anti-tumor activity (collaboration with Prof. Michael Platten)