IOZK - Immun-Onkologisches Zentrum Köln
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Welcome at the IOZK


The Nobel Prize for Medicine 2018 being awarded to immune researchers Allison and Honjo is a further milestone for modern cancer therapy with the focus on the body’s powers to heal itself. Already in 2011 three immunologists were recognised for their work which revolutionised our understanding of the immune system and opened new doors to fighting cancer: Steinman described the functioning of dendritic cells and Hoffmann and Beutler discovered that a successful immune response requires danger signals. Our immunotherapy and vaccine production at the IOZK is based on these discoveries. Read more ... 

The scientific background

Since 1985, our doctors and scientists have been focussing on the role of the immune system and how the body’s own immune system can be activated against cancer. We use a special agent, an oncolytic (tumour-destroying) virus. In Europe our vaccine is the first autologous (patient-specific) tumour vaccine used in combination with an oncolytic virus, which has been awarded a manufacturing authorisation according the Medicines Act for advanced therapy medicinal products. 

Patient-specific vaccine against tumours

Our vaccine consists of autologous dendritic cells loaded with autologous tumour antigens. What is unique, is the combination with an oncolytic virus from chickens, which is not harmful to humans and activates the immune system. Through our vaccination, the patient’s immune system is primed in such a way that it recognises and attacks the tumour antigens of the tumour.

Personalised medicine as a basis

Each patient’s cancer is unique. That is why we use the patient’s own tumour material to produce a patient-specific, bespoke vaccine. Through a series of vaccinations in combination with the above-mentioned virus the immune system is “taught” to prevent further tumour growth.

Combination with other new therapies

Currently of great interest are antibodies which are the natural immunological brakes of the immune system. Whereas our vaccine functions as the accelerator and points the immune system in the right direction, the antibodies function as the brakes. 

The complete cure of an advanced tumour can only be achieved in very rare cases through this type of therapy. But it can certainly influence the course of the disease positively and enhance the quality of life. This is our goal at the IOZK.