ZMB Member Iris Helfrich

ZMB Member
Iris Helfrich

Next ZMB-Member
Iris Helfrich portrait
© UDE

PD Dr. Iris Helfrich

Clinic for Dermatology
University Hospital Essen
Hufelandstr. 55
45122 Essen

Research Overview

Cancer cells can subvert the normal tissue architecture and reprogram the activity of stromal cells to their advantage. Tumor-regulated vascularization, the recruitment of inflammatory cells and the activation of resident cells, are key stromal events promoting cancer cell survival, invasion and metastasis. We and others have shown that tumor-infiltrating cells (e.g. T-cells, neutrophils, macrophages) play key parts in tumorigenesis but also impact therapy efficacy and resistance.

The group is interested to understand the multifactorial steps of melanoma metastasis and the reziprocal communication of tumor cells with cells of the microenvironment in regard to cancer therapy. Besides the known immune functions of tumor infiltrates, these cells have recently become of major interests since targeting “immune checkpoints” have become the most promising approach for activating therapeutic antitumor activity. Thus, a better insight into molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying on tumor-stroma interaction but also the impact of tumor-infiltrating inflammatory cells will help to pave the way forward new anti-cancer therapies.

In our lab we use multiple 2D/3D in vitro assays to monitor in real time cellular functions and pathway activation but also use different experimental tumor models (xenotransplantation/ transgenically-driven spontaneous melanoma models) to identify tumor-modulating mechanisms and validate therapeutic intervention under dynamic environmental conditions.

Current Projects

  • Molecular and functional analysis of tumor/stoma interactions controlling site-specific metastasis
  • Clinical impact & biological function of the immune checkpoint protein CEACAM1
  • Mechanisms of intrinsic and adaptive resistance
  • Experimental modelling and functional genomics of melanoma brain metastases
  • Immune modulatory effects of proton therapy (shared project with Prof. B. Timmermann/ Dr. H. Thomas, West German Proton Center)

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Selected Publications

    Journal articles

  • Váraljai, Renáta; Horn, Susanne; Sucker, Antje; Piercianek, Daniela; Schmitt, Verena; Carpinteiro, Alexander; Becker, Katrin; Reifenberger, Julia; Rösch, Alexander; Felsberg, Joerg; Reifenberger, Guido; Sure, Ulrich; Schadendorf, Dirk; Helfrich, Iris
    Integrative genomic analyses of patient-matched intracranial and extracranial metastases reveal a novel brain-specific landscape of genetic variants in driver genes of malignant melanoma
    In: Cancers Vol. 13 (2021) Nr. 4, pp. 731
    ISSN: 2072-6694
  • Helfrich, Iris; Singer, Bernhard B.
    Size Matters: The Functional Role of the CEACAM1 Isoform Signature and Its Impact for NK Cell-Mediated Killing in Melanoma
    In: Cancers Vol. 11 (2019) Nr. 3, pp. 356
    ISSN: 2072-6694
  • Klein, Johanna C.; Moses, Katrin; Zelinskyy, Gennadiy; Sody, Simon; Buer, Jan; Lang, Stephan; Helfrich, Iris; Dittmer, Ulf; Kirschning, Carsten Jürgen; Brandau, Sven
    Combined toll-like receptor 3/7/9 deficiency on host cells results in T-cell-dependent control of tumour growth
    In: Nature Communications Vol. 8 (2017) pp. 14600
    ISSN: 2041-1723
  • Kalkavan, Halime; Sharma, Piyush; Kasper, Stefan; Helfrich, Iris; Pandyra, Aleksandra A.; Gassa, Asmae; Virchow, Isabel; Flatz, Lukas; Brandenburg, Tim; Namineni, Sukumar; Heikenwalder, Mathias; Höchst, Bastian; Knolle, Percy A.; Wollmann, Guido; Von Laer, Dorothee; Drexler, Ingo; Rathbun, Jessica; Cannon, Paula M.; Scheu, Stefanie; Bauer, Jens; Chauhan, Jagat; Häussinger, Dieter; Willimsky, Gerald; Löhning, Max; Schadendorf, Dirk; Brandau, Sven; Schuler, Martin; Lang, Philipp A.; Lang, Karl S.
    Spatiotemporally restricted arenavirus replication induces immune surveillance and type i interferon-dependent tumour regression
    In: Nature Communications Vol. 8 (2017) pp. 14447
    ISSN: 2041-1723
  • Klose, Ralph; Krzywinska, Ewelina; Castells, Magali; Gotthardt, Dagmar; Putz, Eva Maria; Kantari-Mimoun, Chahrazade; Chikdene, Naima; Meinecke, Anna-Katharina; Schrödter, Katrin; Helfrich, Iris; Fandrey, Joachim; Sexl, Veronika; Stockmann, Christian
    Targeting VEGF-A in myeloid cells enhances natural killer cell responses to chemotherapy and ameliorates cachexia
    In: Nature Communications Vol. 7 (2016) pp. 12528
    ISSN: 2041-1723
  • Ullrich, Nico; Heinemann, Anja; Nilewski, Elena; Scheffrahn, Inka; Klode, Joachim; Scherag, Andre; Schadendorf, Dirk; Singer, Bernhard B.; Helfrich, Iris
    CEACAM1-3S drives melanoma cells into NK cell-mediated cytolysis and enhances patient survival
    In: Cancer Research Vol. 75 (2015) Nr. 9, pp. 1897 - 1907
    ISSN: 0008-5472; 1538-7445
  • Carpinteiro, Alexander; Becker-Flegler, Katrin; Japtok, Lukasz; Hessler, Gabriele; Keitsch, Simone; Požgajovà, Miroslava; Schmid, Kurt Werner; Adams, Constantin; Müller, Stefan; Kleuser, Burkhard; Edwards, Michael J.; Grassmé, Heike; Helfrich, Iris; Gulbins, Erich
    Regulation of hematogenous tumor metastasis by acid sphingomyelinase
    In: EMBO Molecular Medicine Vol. 7 (2015) Nr. 6, pp. 714 - 734
    ISSN: 1757-4684
  • Bald, Tobias; Quast, Thomas; Landsberg, Jennifer; Rogava, Meri; Glodde, Nicole; Lopez-Ramos, Dorys; Kohlmeyer, Judith; Riesenberg, Stefanie; van den Boorn-Konijnenberg, Debby; Hömig-Hölzel, Cornelia; Reuten, Raphael; Schadow, Benjamin; Weighardt, Heike; Wenzel, Daniela; Helfrich, Iris; Schadendorf, Dirk; Bloch, Wilhelm; Bianchi, Marco E; Lugassy, Claire; Barnhill, Raymond L; Koch, Manuel; Fleischmann, Bernd K; Förster, Irmgard; Kastenmüller, Wolfgang; Kolanus, Waldemar; Hölzel, Michael; Gaffal, Evelyn; Tüting, Thomas
    Ultraviolet-radiation-induced inflammation promotes angiotropism and metastasis in melanoma
    In: Nature Vol. 507 (2014) Nr. 7490, pp. 109 - 113
    ISSN: 0028-0836; 1476-4687
  • Meinecke, Anna-Katharina; Nagy, Nadine; D'Amico Lago, Gabriela; Kirmse, Santina; Klose, Ralph; Schrödter, Katrin; Zimmermann, Annika; Helfrich, Iris; Rundqvist, Helene; Theegarten, Dirk; Anhenn, Olaf; Orian-Rousseau, Véronique; Johnson, Randall S.; Alitalo, Kari; Fischer, Jens W.; Fandrey, Joachim; Stockmann, Christian
    Aberrant mural cell recruitment to lymphatic vessels and impaired lymphatic drainage in a murine model of pulmonary fibrosis
    In: Blood Vol. 119 (2012) Nr. 24, pp. 5931 - 5942
    ISSN: 1528-0020; 0006-4971
  • Hansen, Wiebke; Hutzler, Marina; Abel, Simone; Alter, Christina; Stockmann, Christian; Kliche, Stefanie; Albert, Juliane; Sparwasser, Tim; Sakaguchi, Shimon; Westendorf, Astrid; Schadendorf, Dirk; Buer, Jan; Helfrich, Iris
    Neuropilin 1 deficiency on CD4⁺Foxp3⁺ regulatory T cells impairs mouse melanoma growth
    In: Journal of Experimental Medicine Vol. 209 (2012) Nr. 11, pp. 2001 - 2016
    ISSN: 0022-1007; 1540-9538
  • Testori, Julia; Schweighofer, Bernhard; Helfrich, Iris; Sturtzel, Caterina; Lipnik, Karoline; Gesierich, Sabine; Nasarre, Patrick; Hofer-Warbinek, Renate; Bilban, Martin; Augustin, Hellmut G.; Hofer, Erhard
    The VEGF-regulated transcription factor HLX controls the expression of guidance cues and negatively regulates sprouting of endothelial cells
    In: Blood Vol. 117 (2011) Nr. 9, pp. 2735 - 2744
    ISSN: 0006-4971; 1528-0020
  • Helfrich, Iris; Scheffrahn, Inka; Bartling, Soenke; Weis, Joachim; von Felbert, Verena; Middleton, Mark; Kato, Masahi; Ergün, Süleyman; Schadendorf, Dirk
    Resistance to antiangiogenic therapy is directed by vascular phenotype, vessel stabilization, and maturation in malignant melanoma
    In: Journal of Experimental Medicine Vol. 207 (2010) Nr. 3, pp. 491 - 503
    ISSN: 0022-1007; 1540-9538