Experimental cancer treatments for advanced stages are more effective than previously thought. Some oncology practitioners believe that experimental drugs are harmful - they give false hope to patients because of its low efficiency (long anticipated effectiveness of the experimental treatment with special drugs produced in Canadian pharmacy only at the level of 4-6% of cases). Patients in the final stage of the disease should have greater access to information about the experimental treatment programs, and, accordingly, they and their families should have the right to know what their real chances, with a particular treatment strategy. Scientists believe that the involvement of cancer patients even in the early stages of clinical trials can be very useful for them. Besides, the search for a way out of the situation means continuing the fight against the disease. It is characterized by academic phrase "treatment of metastatic cancer still remains palliative, with a very low probability of complete remission and cure the disease."

International Symposium on the Immunology and Immunotherapy of Merkel cell Carcinoma

Wednesday, 16 November 2016, 09.00-16.30, Maastricht

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a highly aggressive, often lethal neuroendocrine cancer of the skin associated with the recently discovered, common Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). With an incidence of 0.44 per 100,000 MCC is a very rare cancer. Notably, however, although MCC is 40 times less common than malignant melanoma, MCC has a dramatically higher mortality rate than melanoma rendering MCC to the most lethal skin cancer. Indeed, epidemiologic data suggest that there are approximately 2500 new MCC cases per year within the EU; approximately 1000 of these patients will die from their disease. This high mortality rate is largely due to the fact that to date none of the currently available therapeutic interventions is able to improve overall survival of patients suffering from metastatic disease. Consequently, new therapeutic strategies are needed for metastatic MCC. Since several lines of evidence indicate the outstanding immunogenicity of MCC, immune modulating treatment strategies are particularly attractive.

International top speakers will present their latest research projects and results regarding on MCC.

The International Symposium focuses on:

  • Update on the Epidemiology of MCC
  • The carcinogenesis and biology of MCC
  • Adaptive and innate immune responses to MCC
  • Immune escape mechanisms of MCC
  • Update on ongoing adjuvant and palliative immunotherapeutic trials in MCC
  • Innovative interventions to boost immune responses to MCC

List of Speakers: Jürgen C. Becker Christopher Bichakjian James DeCaprio Nicole Fischer Rikke Lyngaa Axel zur Hausen Paul Nghiem Cathrin Ritter David Schrama Andreas Stang Masahiro Shuda

For registration, please send an email to tanja.ball@medunigraz.at

Jürgen C. Becker: Information about the European Project IMMOMEC

IMMOMEC is a 5-year project to establish and investigate an innovative and effective immunotherapy for MCC. IMMOMEC will develop a rational immune therapeutic approach for treatment of patients with MCC that is based on the targeted delivery of interleukin-2 to the tumor microenvironment. However, IMMOMEC will not only provide a new therapeutic option for MCC patients, but will also establish the relevance of immune modulating strategies to treat solid cancers in general, establish and validate new tools to monitor patients receiving such therapies as well as compile prognostic and predictive biomarkers to individualize immune modulating therapies.

Please see more Information about the venue on: International Symposium


Expert Panel – ASCO Annual Meeting 2016

ASCO expert Panel 2016

ASCO expert panel 2016

Prof. Becker took part in an expert panel discussion at the ASCO Annual Meeting 2016 on targeted therapies and long-term effects against malignant melanoma in elderly patients. Promising results were presented for MCC.


Please note, that access to this discussion group in German language is only available for experts after login.

Upcoming Final Meeting and International Symposium

Our Final Meeting takes place in Maastricht on the 15 November 2016 at the Maastricht University. Furthermore on the following day (16 November 2016) the International Symposium on MCC will be held in Maastricht at the MECC Maastricht.

4th Annual Meeting, Warsaw

The 4th Annual Meeting took place at Centrum Onkologii-Instytut im. Marii Skłodowskiej-Curie, Centrum Profilaktyki Nowotworow (Warsaw, Poland) on July 2 and July 3 2015.


Agenda (PDF)

ESMO 2014 – Prof. Jürgen Becker

Prof. Jürgen Becker presents important findings regarding Melanoma,
Basalioma and Merkel Cell Carcinoma at ESMO 2014 in


3rd Annual Meeting and 2nd Workshop, Essen

The 3nd Annual Meeting and the 2st Workshop took place at Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Essen (Germany) on June 30th and July 1st 2014.


Agenda (PDF)

2nd Annual Meeting and 1st Workshop

The 2nd Annual Meeting and the 1st Workshop took place in Frankfurt on June 10, 2013. 19 Participants of the 11 partners from 8 countries and the Scientific Advisory Board discussed the progress of the project.

Agenda (PDF)


Peptide identification of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Dear All,

as foreseen in the IMMOMEC project plan, our partners at immatics biotechnologies in Tübingen are currently intensively working on the identification of potential tumor-specific peptide targets for incorporation in the clinical immunomonitoring of the planned phase I trial. This work is a very important part of the IMMOMEC preclinical preparations, and the identified epitopes will hopefully enable us to observe and follow potential changes in tumor-specific immune responses of patients during study treatment.

However, in order to identify relevant target structures on tumor cells, the scientists at immatics heavily depend on the availability of MCC tissue (shock frozen in liquid nitrogen without additives; stored at -70C or lower after initial freezing). As this kind of material is very scarce, we are today contacting you with hopes that you may be able to support these efforts by providing such tumor samples for the mentioned analyses. Therefore, if such samples should be or become available at your hospital, the team at immatics would very much welcome the opportunity to discuss further details with you directly. For this, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Nina Pawlowski (pawlowski@immatics.com) or myself (juergen.becker@medunigraz.at) at any time.

Thank you for your consideration and kind regards, Jürgen

Press clippings

Neue Therapie suchen (DKG, Krebsgesellschaft, 1. März 2013)

Großprojekt gegen tödlichen Hauptkrebs (Kleine Zeitung, 17. Jänner 2013)

100,000 EURO dotierter Gold Award der LEO Pharma Research Foundation für Ass.-Prof. Dr. David Schrama (Das Magazin der Ärztekammer Steiermark, December 2012)

ForscherInnen hoffen, eine Therapie für seltenen Hautkrebs zu finden (MEDITIO, 2/2012, November 2012)

Press clippings July 2012

Press release

Press release (engl.)

Press release (german)