PD Dr. Dr. Ekin Demir

Klinik und Poliklinik für Chirurgie

Technische Universität München Klinikum rechts der Isar

Ismaninger Str. 22

81675 Munich


Exploitation of Oncogenic Mechanisms (EOM)

Molecular Diagnostics, Early Detection, and Biomarker Development (MDEB)


Our research group is an international team of biologists and clinicians with the aim to uncover selected disease mechanisms in pancreatic disease with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapy strategies.
The main three lines of investigation in our laboratory are as follows:

1) Mechanisms of neural invasion and neuropathy in human pancreatic cancer 

Co-Investigators: Istvanffy, Wang
Neural invasion is one of hallmarks of human pancreatic cancer and pancreatic neuropathy, and it drastically worsens the prognosis of patients due to early recurrence. We developed novel research tools for simulating neural invasion in 3D culture and, together with our collaboration partners, characterized novel GEMMs of pancreatic cancer that exhibit human-like neural invasion. We currently focus on the role of Schwann cells, stromal cells (i.e. cancer-associate fibroblasts), mesenchymal stem cells, and especially immune cells as potential inducers of neural invasion.

2) Tumor immune profile in locally advanced and resectable pancreatic cancer
Co-Investigators: Istvanffy, Safak, Mota-Reyes
Neoadjuvant therapy has remarkably improved the prognosis of patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, who can in ca. 60% of cases become candidates for surgical resection after tumor downsizing. We are applying novel mouse models that allow the application of neoadjuvant therapy similar to the clinical setting, and analyse the immune profile of neoadjuvantly treated versus primary resected pancreatic cancer in simultaneous comparison with human specimens.

3) Pain mechanisms in pancreatitis and pancreatic Cancer
Co-Investigators: Schorn, Safak
By far, the most unpleasant symptom of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer is severe abdominal and/or back pain. We have recently identified the molecular, neuro-immune mediators of pain in both diseases and are currently performing pre-clinical analgesic trials for more effective pain treatment in pancreatic diseases.