Christiane Opitz awarded prize from the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences

The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences prize - donated by the Monika Kutzner Foundation for the Promotion of Cancer Research - was awarded to Dr. (Med.) Christiane Opitz in 2014. The prize money is 10,000 €.

Dr. Christiane Opitz works in the area of the metabolism of cancer cells and researches tryptophan degradation in normal and tumor cells, particularly in gliomas. She was initially concerned with degradation paths for the amino acid tryptophan in human mesenchymal stem cells and then began to examine these metabolic pathways in brain tumors. In 2011 she published a notable article, as lead author, on this subject in Nature. In this paper she covers a wide range of subjects, from experiments on gliomas to a general mechanism for tumorigenesis. She identified a new metabolic pathway for tryptophan in tumor cells and showed that the product of this metabolic pathway not only causes inhibition of the immune system, but also has a growth-stimulating effect on the tumor cells themselves. These findings highlight new approaches in cancer therapy.

In cooperation with Proteome Sciences, Dr. Opitz developed a method with which tryptophan and its metabolites can be measured in up to six samples at the same time, as a result of which the accuracy of the measurement is increased.
 
Christiane Opitz works as an assistant doctor at Heidelberg University Hospital of Neurology and heads the German Cancer Research Center’s (DKFZ) “Brain Tumor Metabolism” junior research group, which conducts research into the role of tryptophan metabolism in the formation of brain metastases. Moreover, Dr. Opitz heads the e:Med junior research group “GlioPATH - comparison of metabolic and signaling pathways in IDH-mutated and wild-type gliomas”.
The group intends to make use of her expertise to examine the cancer metabolism for the analysis of metabolism in brain tumors.