Molecular Microbiology (Virology)
Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene
University Regensburg


Funding: Eurostars
Full title: Treating cancer by targeting endogenous retroviral fossils within the human genome

Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are transposable retroviral elements accounting for about 8 % of the human genome. They are ancient relicts acquired through multiple infections of the germ line by now extinct exogenous retroviruses.

Although many HERV sequences have acquired inactivating mutations during human evolution, some HERVs retain protein-coding functions, which partly play important roles in human physiology and pathology. For example, correlation between HERVs and human cancer has been described for melanoma, breast cancer, germ cell tumours, renal cancer and ovarian cancer where HERV Envelope (Env) proteins are overexpressed compared to healthy tissues.

The TREATCANCERV partners therefore aim at developing therapeutic vaccines as well as therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting these HERV Env proteins.

The Wagner lab contributes to this project by designing antigens based on the Env protein for different HERV strains, which will then be used for the production of hybridoma cell lines expressing monoclonal antibodies targeting these antigens. The project partner Sirion-Biotech will produce adenoviral vectors carrying the same antigens while our project partners from the University of Copenhagen and the Danish company InProTher will develop the therapeutic vaccination approach based on a Virus-Like-Vaccine (VLV).

Project partners:

Hervolution ApS (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Molecular Microbiology (Virology), Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Regensburg (Germany)
University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Sirion-Biotech (Munich, Germany)

Further information: