Prof. Roland Rad and Prof. Dieter Saur were awarded the German Cancer Prize 2019 in the "Experimental Research" category at the international AEK Congress in Heidelberg. The German Cancer Award, sponsored by the German Cancer Society and the German Cancer Foundation, is one of the highest awards in German cancer medicine.
Roland Rad and Dieter Saur use mouse models to investigate the molecular processes involved in the development of cancer. They have developed genetic technologies that make it possible to systematically search the genome for tumor genes and manipulate them in a targeted way. In their work, they discovered molecular processes that are involved in the development of pancreatic cancer.
The two researchers were able to demonstrate for the first time in 2018 that important properties of pancreatic tumors are determined by the number of defective copies of the cancer gene KRAS. The gene plays an important role in cell proliferation and is activated in 90 percent of all human pancreatic tumors. The scientists showed that the number of mutated KRAS copies is directly related to the aggressiveness of the tumor and its ability to metastasize, and they uncovered the biological principles underlying the genesis of these different manifestations of the disease. The findings provide fundamental new contributions to the understanding of tumor development with far-reaching implications for other cancers as well.