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."

University Hospital Essen

Objectives: UKEssen will participate in the clinical trial and contribute to the case collection as well as biobanking. To the scientific part, UKEssen will participate in the identification of biomarkers in order to study associations to therapeutic responses.

Expertise relevant to the proposed work: The Universitätsklinikum Essen (University Hospital Essen) is the pace maker for innovative medicine in the metropolitan area Ruhr of up to 7 million people. Scientific research is strongly connected to clinical practice for direct benefit of the patient. The Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of 10 audited, certified and supported cancer centers, however, is the oldest and largest CCC (known as “Westdeutsches Tumorzentrum”) in Germany. Innovative treatment as part of clinical studies is already standard in Essen. The University Hospital Essen enjoys a reputation for excellence in translational and clinical cancer research and is the leading center in that area. Annually around 153.000 patients are treated as outpatients and 44.000 inside the hospital. The Hospital has nowadays a staff of over 4000 (person years), with physicians, scientists and employees providing administrative and technical support.

Within the University Hospital Essen, the Department of Dermatology with its Skin Cancer Unit, is headed by Prof. Dirk Schadendorf. This association allows a fast translation of recent findings in scientific and clinical research into new treatment concepts for skin cancer patients. The Skin Cancer Unit comprises 5 researchers amongst a total of 12 employees. It has contributed to 15 publications relevant to the subject of this EU application in the last five years. The scientific efforts of the Skin Cancer Unit concentrate on the identification of tumor antigens and their T-cell epitopes, antigen processing and NK recognition as a prerequisite for the development and improvement of immunotherapeutic treatment strategies which can be quickly translated from “bench to bedside” as well as studies on prognostic markers in melanoma. Particular interest does exist in performing various vaccination based studies. Furthermore, various clinical trials are activated at The Skin Cancer Unit including trials using immunotherapy .

Specific role in the project: UKEssen will actively contribute patients with Merkel cell carcinoma to the clinical trial and perform biobanking of tumor material; thus UKEssen is involved in WP1 and WP2.


SCABIO/Skin Cancer Biobank: http://www.uk-essen.de/index.php?id=2956


Universitätsklinikum Essen (University Hospital Essen)
Department of Dermatology
Hufelandstr. 55
45147 Essen