Research Group „Cell Death and Cancer Evolution“


The evolution of cancer is tightly regulated by repeated cycles of cell proliferation, selection of the fittest clone and cell death of all weaker clones. Thereby, cancers strictly follow the rule of “Darwinian” selection throughout their existence. Although the induction of cell death in a cancer cell is wanted from a therapeutic viewpoint, it is also the driver behind selection for the most aggressive cancer cell clone. Moreover, even before tumours are put through selective pressure via chemotherapy and other more targeted treatments, they have already undergone many rounds of selection via cell death induction by the immune system. 

The von Karstedt lab investigates the function of different modes of cell death in

  • The selection of the fittest mutant KRAS clone in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 
  • Influencing progression of premalignant KRAS-driven pancreatic lesions
  • The development and treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

By unravelling mechanisms of selection-of-the-fittest in lung and pancreatic cancer, we anticipate to identify pathways which select for (NSCLC, pancreatic cancer) or against (SCLC) driver mutations and at the same time to find new therapeutic vulnerabilities to treat these cancers.