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Cancer study provides approaches for new immunotherapies

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As part of a project funded by the Wilhelm Sander Foundation, researchers at the Medical Faculty of the University of Duisburg-Essen have studied glioblastomas, the most aggressive brain tumors in adults, and discovered stem cells of the hematopoietic system there for the first time. The team from the DKTK partner site in Essen/Düsseldorf found that these blood stem cells promote the division of cancer cells and suppress the immune defense against the tumor. Their discovery could help develop more effective immunotherapies against brain tumors. The study was published in Nature Communications and included in Editors’ Highlights and the Cancer at Nature Portfolio.

Glioblastomas are brain tumors with a particularly severe and usually fatal course. They are usually not successfully treatable in the long term, even with the best possible surgical, chemotherapeutic and radiotherapeutic treatments. Even immunotherapies, which already achieve good results with other types of cancer, do not work. The causes are still not clearly understood, making research into the underlying mechanisms all the more important.

In a research project funded by the Wilhelm Sander Foundation, the team led by cancer researcher Dr. Igor Cima and Prof. Dr. Björn Scheffler, DKTK Professor of Translational Oncology at the West German Tumor Center (WTZ) of the University Hospital Essen (UK Essen), examined samples of glioblastomas and of healthy brain tissue. To their surprise, the scientists* discovered blood stem cells and precursor cells of the hematopoietic system, which are normally located in the bone marrow, for the first time in all samples of malignant brain tissue. This cell type was not detectable in healthy tissue samples.

 

“Glioblastomas produce immunosuppressive messengers, and in the immediate microenvironment of the tumors are found certain types of immune cells that specifically throttle the body’s own defenses. In our cell culture assay systems, hematopoietic stem cells were able to further increase the division activity of the cancer cells, while at the same time the tumor cells increased the production of the molecule PD-L1 (programmed cell death 1 ligand 1), known as an “immune brake”, on their surface.”

– Björn Scheffler

 

The researchers examined a total of several hundred tissue samples from glioblastoma patients. The result: the more blood stem cells a tumor contained, the more immunosuppressive messenger substances were released, the more immune-braking markers the cancer cells formed – and the lower the overall survival of those affected.

In addition, the team, in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Ulrich Sure, Director of the Clinic for Neurosurgery at the UK Essen, compared healthy with diseased cells. By sequencing the gene expression of 660 individual cells from vital tumor tissue, profiles could be generated and compared to cells from healthy bone marrow and blood. Analysis of these data reveals some new approaches to rendering the tumor-promoting cell population under study harmless in the future.

The fact that blood stem cells in the bone marrow preferentially mature into immunosuppressive cell types during the course of cancer, by being programmed accordingly by the tumor, was already known to researchers. Cancer researcher Igor Cima now suspects a similar phenomenon in glioblastoma-associated hematopoietic stem cells: “For the first time, we now see the possibility of modulating the differentiation process of glioma-associated hematopoietic stem cells in the course of further research projects – for example, by using certain cell messengers – and thus circumventing the tumor-induced immune blockade. Then immunotherapies would also have a better chance of being effective against glioblastoma.”

The research team’s findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications and were also included in the Editors’ Hightlights in Focus Cancer and also in the cross-journal Cancer at Nature portfolio.

Wilhelm Sander Foundation: Partner of innovative cancer research

The Wilhelm Sander Foundation supported the research project with approximately 191,000 euros.
The purpose of the foundation is to promote medical research, in particular projects in the field of cancer. Since the foundation was established, a total of more than 250 million euros has been disbursed for research funding in Germany and Switzerland. This makes the Wilhelm Sander Foundation one of the most important private research foundations in Germany. It emerged from the estate of the entrepreneur of the same name, who died in 1973.

About the West German Tumor Center

At the West German Tumor Center (WTZ), patients can benefit not only from the best possible diagnostics and therapy, but also from the fact that promising approaches from laboratory research are applied in innovative clinical studies. The WTZ Center for Neurooncology unites more than 10 clinics and institutes of the University Medical Center Essen in an interdisciplinary way. Contact persons are Prof. Dr. Ulrich Sure (Director of the Department of Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery), Prof. Dr. Martin Glas (Head of the Division of Clinical Neurooncology at the Department of Neurology) and Prof. Dr. Björn Scheffler (Director of the DKFZ Department of Translational Neurooncology at the WTZ).

About the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK)

In the DKTK, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, as the core center, joins forces on a long-term basis with university partner sites in Germany that have a particularly high reputation in oncology. With more than 3,000 employees, the DKFZ is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. The scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They develop new methods with which tumors can be diagnosed more precisely and those affected can be treated more successfully.

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Wastewater treatment plant in Tübingen now has fourth treatment stage

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On July 21, 2021, Helmfried Meinel, Ministerial Director at the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, visited the wastewater treatment plant in Tübingen, where he inaugurated the construction of the so-called fourth treatment stage. The fourth treatment stage will allow residues of pharmaceuticals and household chemicals to be filtered out of wastewater. “The elimination of trace substances is precautionary water protection,” Meinel emphasized. In Tübingen in particular, this plays a major role, he said, because it means that fewer trace substances end up in the Neckar River.

The Ministerial Director explained that Tübingen is only the second wastewater treatment plant in Baden-Württemberg, after the treatment plant in Eriskirch, to use an ozonation plant with downstream filtration for the elimination of trace substances. “Tübingen is thus one of the pioneers for this process combination in Baden-Württemberg. The big advantage is that it has a broad effect.” He said it is effective for a wide range of pharmaceuticals, hormones and numerous other substances. Even germs can be removed from wastewater.

20 wastewater treatment plants have been equipped with the fourth treatment stage so far

With a view to prevention, Meinel explained further, the Ministry of the Environment began several years ago to support the expansion of wastewater treatment plants with innovative processes for the so-called fourth purification stage for the elimination of trace substances. In doing so, the state is concentrating on particularly sensitive bodies of water, as well as large wastewater treatment plants and pollution hotspots.

“On this basis, 20 wastewater treatment plants in Baden-Württemberg are now equipped with a targeted purification stage for the removal of trace substances, and another 23 with this special technology are under construction or in planning.”

– Helmfried Meinel, Ministerial Director

State contributes almost three million euros in Tübingen

The state is contributing almost three million euros to the total eligible costs in Tübingen of almost 13.8 million euros. “This is money well invested,” Meinel said. In addition to the city of Tübingen, the municipalities of Ammerbuch and Rottenburg are also financing the expansion.

The ministerial director also praised the fact that with the completion of the expansion and the commissioning of filtration in Tübingen, phosphorus elimination has now been raised to an even better level. “Aquatic animals and plants also benefit from this, because the ecological condition in the Neckar can be noticeably and sustainably improved.”

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Flood victims receive tax aid

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The heavy rain and flooding not only claimed lives, but also caused enormous economic damage. To account for the material damage, the finance ministries of the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate as well as the Bavarian State Tax Office have each enacted disaster decrees. Thomas Loibl from Ecovis in Landshut explains which tax support measures flood victims can receive.

 

What happens if my accounting records were destroyed by the water?

If accounting documents and other records have been destroyed or lost due to the storm, there are no adverse tax consequences to be drawn from this. Important: The affected taxpayer should document the destruction or loss in a timely manner and, to the extent possible, provide proof or credible evidence.

 

What can business owners do to mitigate the significant financial burdens?

The respective disaster decrees contain more than 20 tax support measures for taxpayers who are directly and not insignificantly affected – for private individuals as well as special regulations for entrepreneurs. Some examples from both:

Deferral and enforcement measures as well as adjustment of advance payments.
Note: Affected parties can submit the applications until October 31, 2021.

Deferral and remission applications for trade tax.
These applications must be submitted to the municipalities.

Special depreciation options for reconstruction
This allows expenses on a larger scale to be taken into account immediately to reduce taxes.

Special regulations for agriculture and forestry and income from renting and leasing
Farmers and landlords can take advantage of additional support measures.

Possibility to waive property tax
Interesting for all house and apartment owners.

Expenses for existentially necessary items (apartment, household goods, clothing) as extraordinary burdens

How are donations eligible?

The obligation to provide proof of donations has now been simplified. In addition, donation campaigns can also be organized by non-profit corporations that, according to their articles of association, do not promote charitable purposes, for example, or are regionally bound.

Furthermore, so-called donations from wages and salaries are possible. In this case, an employee waives payment of part of his or her salary. The employer pays this amount into a donation account of an institution entitled to receive donations. The donated portion of the salary is then not taken into account as wages. No payroll tax or social security must be paid. “However, the employer must fulfill and document the use requirement. Important: The donated salary must be recorded in the payroll account,” says tax consultant Thomas Loibl.

Tip: Even expenses for existentially necessary items (apartment, household goods, clothing) can be taken into account for tax purposes. In exceptional cases, these can be deducted as extraordinary expenses.

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Complemented by many years of experience in medical technology and diagnostic language services

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Language industry research firms CSA Research, Nimdzi and Slator have named Welocalize one of the world’s largest Language Service Providers (LSPs). The company now announces the acquisition of Next Level Globalization(NLG), the third largest LSP in Germany.

Its clients specialize in medical technology, diagnostics, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The acquisition doubles Welocalize’s portfolio of leading global life sciences brands. The company has extensive expertise in providing language services to highly regulated companies. These services include medical translation and in-country reviews, as well as regulatory consulting for software localization. The merger will significantly expand Welocalize’s presence in Europe, the central hub of the life sciences industry. As a result, the company further increases its customer accessibility.

“We are very pleased to add NLG to the family. We were impressed by their focus on customer relations and offering efficient language programs. Through our combined competencies, we can help clients achieve added value, a compelling customer experience, and higher performance measured against their respective business objectives. Together, we continue to transform life sciences language services.”

– Devin Lynch, Vice President of Global Customer Success

Working together to deliver translation projects at a rapid pace

Over the past 18 months, the life sciences industry has been under tremendous and unprecedented pressure to accelerate the design of communications and the global transmission of information. Going forward, the two companies will work together with their customers to provide a better customer experience, high-quality language services and proprietary technologies for in-country reviews and project submission through intelligent workflow solutions.

“We are excited to join forces with such an innovative and customer-centric company that strives to further develop our highly customized solutions for the brands we work with,” said Michael Oettli, founder and CEO. “Our experienced team understands the demanding medical device and diagnostics industry and provides personalized services to our long-standing clients,” adds Nicole Sheehan, Vice President of Customer Success for Regulated Services at Welocalize. “The two groups share the same passion for excellence and innovation and are supported by global teams that ensure we put the customer experience at the center of everything we do. By bringing together our people, operations and technology, we can better position ourselves to enable our customers to achieve their business goals and accelerate global growth.”

Expanding portfolio in a regulated industry

The acquisition of NLG is Welocalize’s 19th acquisition and its 4th acquisition in a regulated industry, following the acquisitions of Park IP Translations in 2012 and those of Nova Language Services and Global Language Solutions in 2016. In terms of its combined client portfolio, Welocalize benefits from a range of complementary services, including IP and legal translation and ISO-certified machine translation services.

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