University of Halle, Germany
Tentative title: Impact of an acidic pH on the metastatic potential of tumors: Not only hypoxia counts
Oliver Thews studied medicine at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and received his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering in 1988. After spending some years in medical informatics, he changed to the field of tumor pathophysiology. After a professorship at the University of Würzburg, he became professor at the Julius Bernstein Institute of Physiology, University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. His recent research projects focus mainly on the impact of the regional distribution of microenvironmental parameters (e.g., tumor pH, oxygen, perfusion and nutrient supply) on the malignant potential of tumor cells and the efficacy of non-surgical tumor treatments. Within these parameters the local extracellular tissue pH is of most interest. In several current projects the intracellular signaling is analyzed by which tumor acidosis affects migration, invasiveness, proliferation and apoptosis of tumor cells. One major focus is the role of small non-coding (regulatory) RNAs (microRNAs). As a translational approach these studies are performed in vitro (cell culture) as well as in vivo (experimental tumor models). In addition, the impact of the acidic tumor environment on the efficacy of different chemotherapeutic drugs is studied. A second focus of the current research activities is functional imaging of physiological parameters in tumors using nuclear-medical approaches. In these projects new tracers for positron-emission-tomography (PET) are developed to visualize the intratumoral distribution of physiological parameters (e.g., oxygenation) and assess parameters relevant for the treatment-sensitivity of solid tumors.