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Toma Lab

Experimental Pathology


Lab Members:

Dr. Vittorio Branchi, MD, Else Kröner PostDoc Fellowship (AG Matthaei, VTG)

Laura Eßer, PhD Student

Kerstin Fuchs, BTA

Adrian Simon, MD candidate

Jan Pfeifer, MD candidate

Cristina Conopan, MD candidate

Neilla Bambi, MD candidate

Nada Felfela, MD candidate

AG Toma Team


Lab Leader

Prof. Dr. med. Marieta Toma


Functional and therapeutical analyses of organoids from patient-derived material


Organoids are cultured three-dimensional cell aggregates, which can be obtained from patient-derived tissue. Under particular culture conditions, it is possible to grow organoids over a long period of time (from weeks to months). Whereas commercial cell lines have been altered resulting in abnormal or uncontrolled proliferative capacities and metabolic function, organoids maintain some key features of the derived tissue, such as the architecture and functionality. Therefore, organoid cultures represent an important tool for translational research and personalized medicine. In our lab we established a protocol for the cultivation of organoids from several tissue types, including several cancer entities. Our main goal is to establish a routinely applicable model in order to integrate clinical and in vitro information.


Response of patient-derived organoids to immunotherapy


During the last years, immunotherapy has become an important treatment option for several cancer types. However, the response to immunotherapy is inadequate in many patients. The molecular mechanisms of this lack of response are still not completely understood. Therefore, there is an urgent need of reliable in vitro models in order to understand the complex interactions between immune cells and tumor cells during immunotherapy. In our lab we use a so-called air-liquid-interface (ALI-PDO) model, which consists of a three-dimensional co-culture of tumor tissue and tumor-associated immune cells. With this in vitro model it is possible to test the effects of immunotherapy in settings that resemble the in vivo situation more closely.


The effect of mitophagy on therapy response


Mitophagy is the process of mitochondrial autophagy and it represents an adaptive strategy to many different stress conditions, such us DNA damage and hypoxia. There is emerging evidence that mitophagy plays a pivotal role in cancer progression and anticancer therapy response. One of our main interests is to understand the molecular basis of mitophagy disregulation in cancer and the mechanism of mitophagy-related resistance to chemotherapy.



PD Dr. med. Hanno Matthaei

Department of General, Abdominal, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery

University Hospital, Bonn


Prof. Dr. med. Michael Hölzel

Institute of Experimental Oncology

University Hospital, Bonn


Prof. Dr. med. Jörg Ellinger

Department of Urology

Unniversity Hospital, Bonn


Prof. Dr. med. Hubert Schorle

Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Department of Developmental Pathology

University Hospital, Bonn