Patientenkolloquium 2021
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Toma Lab - Experimental Pathology




About the Lab

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 as 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.




   Dr. med. Vittorio Branchi, MD, Else Kröner PostDoc Fellow (AG Matthaei)
   Laura Eßer, PhD Student
   Kerstin Fuchs, BTA

   Neilla Bambi, MD candidate
   Nada Felfela, MD candidate
   Jan Pfeifer, MD candidate
   Adrian Simon, MD candidate


Cooperation partners

   PD Dr. med. Hanno Matthaei
   Department of General, Abdominal, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery
   Bonn University Hospital

   Prof. Dr. med. Michael Hölzel
   Institute of Experimental Oncology
   Bonn University Hospital

   Prof. Dr. med. Jörg Ellinger
   Department of Urology
   Bonn University Hospital

   Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Hubert Schorle
   Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Department of Developmental Pathology
   Bonn University Hospital