Prof. Dr. Stefan Eichmüller

German Cancer Research Center

GMP & T Cell Therapy Unit (G182)

Im Neuenheimer Feld 280

69120 Heidelberg


Cancer Immunotherapy (CI)


Immunotherapy based treatment approaches against cancer, particularly those targeting “checkpoint inhibitors”, have yielded impressive results in clinical trials. Such treatment regimens eventually activate T cells of the immune system to specifically eradicate tumor cells within the body. The “GMP & T Cell Therapy Unit” focuses on T cell mediated tumor rejection, working out new concepts for clinical application.
Tumor entities in our pre-clinical focus are represented by malignant melanoma and breast cancer. Using murine or humanized animal models, we are investigating tumor antigens and/or T cell epitopes derived thereof. Furthermore, we analyze the biological functions exerted by tumor antigen specific T cell subsets and determine immune modulatory factors with impact on immunological tumor defense. Overall, we are seeking strategies endowing the autologous immune system with the capacity of comprehensive tumor cell eradication.
The application of innovative immunotherapeutic treatment approaches against tumor diseases constitutes a major goal of tumor immunology oriented research programs located at the DKFZ in Heidelberg. Our GMP Unit has long-standing experience in the implementation of processing and production procedures for adoptive transfer of tumor-specific T cells and other cell based therapeutics, according to GMP guidelines.
„GMP“ stands for „good manufacturing practice“ according to the German Medicines Act. This means that all preparative activities must follow “standard operating procedures” (SOPs), all equipment and materials used in the lab must be certificated, and the work has to be performed under permanent monitoring in special (clean) laboratories with restricted access. Since June 2013 we hold official permission for the generation of ex vivo expanded T cell lines for adoptive transfer. The respective trial was approved by the Paul Ehrlich Institute in spring 2015 and recruitment of patients has started since end of 2016.
In close collaboration with Prof. Offringa, we are presently establishing the expansion of autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) under GMP-conditions, for therapeutic re-infusion into melanoma patients. A respective clinical trial is currently being prepared, together with our cooperation partners at the University Hospital Heidelberg, thus setting the benchmark for future clinical trials including further tumor entities.