Prof. Dr. Jens Pietzsch

Head Radio­pharma­ceutical and Chemical Biology
Phone: +49 351 260 2622

Marita Kersten

Secretariat / Administration
Institute of Radio­pharma­ceutical Cancer Research
Phone: +49 351 260 3223

Department of Radiopharmaceutical and Chemical Biology

Our efforts focus on biochemistry, biology, imaging, and therapy (theranostics) of malignant solid tumors and metastases, with emphasis placed on melanoma, pheochromocytoma, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and multiple myeloma. The discovery and functional characterization of tumor-specific membrane and intracellular proteins, and subset parameters of tumor microenvironment in vitro and in vivo are objectives of several projects and collaborations. This topic implicates pre-clinical research intended to evaluate the theragnostic potential of recent discoveries in the basic mechanisms of both solid tumor pathogenesis and metastasis. Therefore, our research encompasses a broad spectrum of laboratory activities, directed on pharmacological characterization of novel radiolabeled and non-radioactive compounds for either diagnostic or therapeutic use in cell, organ and animal models to determine a) biodistribution, kinetics, and metabolism of novel radiotracers, b) pharmacodynamics of cognate candidate compounds for targeted radionuclide therapy, and c) therapeutic potential of natural and synthetic compounds for application as adjuvant targeted radioprotective or radiosensitizing agents. The resulting data including information obtained by multimodal small animal imaging techniques are used in elucidation of structure-activity relationships as well as providing a basis for assessing potential clinical utility. The best compounds identified in initial screening are subsequently examined in more sophisticated models that allow, under a variety of physiological conditions, direct evaluation of the relationship between compound action and specific aspects of both tissue pathobiochemistry and pathophysiology. For promising compounds identified in this manner, we have productive collaborative relationships with a number of investigators that allow for additional preclinical and clinical assessment of theragnostic performance.

Our strategic goal is to contribute to the elucidation of mechanisms of tumor therapy resistance, especially in endoradiotherapy. Special interes is given to mechanisms characterized by the involvement of extracellular matrix and matrix-modifying proteins. Innovative therapeutic approaches will be identified.

Research Topics

Within the scope of all mentioned research topics, Bachelor's, Master's, Diploma and Doctoral theses are regularly offered, primarily for chemists, biochemists and biologists.

Internship semesters in these fields (internship duration at least 16 weeks) can also be completed.

Unsolicited applications are always welcome. Please send meaningful application documents (pdf) with the appropriate subject via email to Prof. Jens Pietzsch.

Current and general topics for bachelor/master theses

  • Development of radiotracers for imaging functional characterization of enzymes and receptors (focus chemistry)
    • Development of an activity-based radiotracer for Kallikrein 6
    • Development of bispidine-based conjugates for radiotheranostic applications
  • Role of selected enzymes and receptors in tumorigenesis and tumor progression (focus biochemistry)
    • Exploring gene knockout/knockin strategies to identify potential radiotherapeutic targets
  • Establishment and characterization of 3-dimensional tumor cell co-culture models (focus cell biology)
    • Studies on the relative biological efficacy of Auger electron emitters on murine and human tumor cells
    • Investigation of magnetic field stimulation on the proliferation of cultured cancer cells

Current topics for PhD theses

  • Position expected from October/November 2024