© Markus Schmidt / Universitätsmedizin Mainz
The focus of the new young investigator group is on identifying regulatory mechanisms in specialized bone marrow tissue (niche cells). These are responsible for the self-renewal of blood stem cells and ensure their survival. However, they can also contribute to the development of abnormal leukemia stem cells. In addition, cancer cells are capable of reprogramming niche cells in order to hide from the body’s immune defenses. The aim of the new research group is to decipher these mechanisms to develop new immunotherapy treatments for leukemia and innovative approaches for regenerative medicine.
Dr Guezguez, who is leading the new young investigator group, is a proven expert in the field of stem cell research. He received his doctorate in molecular biology and cell biology from Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie in Paris in 2006, and has been working since 2007 at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, in a research group led by Prof. Mick Bhatia, one of the leading researchers in the field of human stem cell research. The focus of Dr Guezguez’s research in Canada was on the biology of hematopoietic and leukemic stem cells and their functional interactions with accessory cells in the bone marrow niche.
The new young investigator group for cancer immunotherapy will further strengthen immuno-oncology research at Mainz University Medical Center and UCT Mainz, one of the top oncological centers in Germany. The research group is based at Mainz University Medical Center and has close structural ties to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, the core center of the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK). It will extend the DKTK’s excellent research structure, which aims to translate pioneering new findings from basic immunology research for cancer and other diseases into clinical practice as quickly as possible. Together, the Mainz and Heidelberg locations, with their access to excellent tissue biobanks and optimum clinical research structures, offer ideal conditions for translational immunotherapy research projects.