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Twins are often said to have a lot in common and a deep connection. Elisabeth and Julia Kamper are also deeply connected to research. Both are researching possible new cancer therapies and explored this subject in their master’s theses at Boehringer Ingelheim. Before that, the sisters completed the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programs in Molecular Biotechnology, always with excellent results. The crowning glory: both Elisabeth and Julia Kamper received the 2019 Award from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (bmbwf) for their excellent theses.
Elisabeth Kamper: Exploiting gene mutations in cancer cells
The focus of Elisabeth Kamper’s master’s thesis "Gene-Gene Interactions in Oncology" is a principle that can exploit the gene mutations of cancer cells: the principle of "synthetic lethality". It is based on an interaction that takes place between certain gene pairs. This interaction is based on the fact that the simultaneous loss of function of both genes in such a gene pair leads to the death of the cell. However, the individual loss of function of just one of the genes is tolerated by the cells. The identification of new synthetically lethal gene pairs is important for cancer research. If one of the genes from such a gene pair in cancer cells has lost its function due to mutations, the cancer cells can be killed specifically with an active ingredient that targets the second gene from the gene pair.
In her research at the Department of Cancer Cell Signaling at Boehringer Ingelheim, Elisabeth Kamper was able to confirm a new synthetic lethal interaction. She is currently a PhD student at The Francis Crick Institute, London, UK Biomedical Research Institute.
Julia Kamper: Targeted use of cell surface proteins against cancer cells
There are differences in the membranome, the entirety of all proteins on the cell surface, of healthy cells and that of cancer cells. Exactly these differences can be used for the development of new cancer therapies: With the help of proteins that are only found on the surface of cancer cells, active ingredients can be targeted against cancer cells. Healthy tissue remains unaffected by the therapy, while cancer cells are killed. Since proteins from the cell surface are difficult to analyze due to their properties, the method used for this, mass spectrometry, had to be optimized. Julia Kamper developed a procedure outlined in her master’s thesis "Attacking the Colon Cancer Membranes: Proteomics-Based Identification of New Antibody Targets for Cancer Therapy".
The research was carried out at the Department of Oncology Research at Boehringer Ingelheim. Julia Kamper is currently a doctoral candidate at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.
Molecular Biotechnology: Six Awards, One Nomination
Before the double success in 2019, awards went to graduates of Molecular Biotechnology for excellent research in 2018, 2014, 2009 and 2007. There was one nomination in the 2016/17 academic year.