Prof. Dr. med. Isabelle Schmitt-Opitz
Department of Thoracic Surgery
University Hospital Zurich
+41 44 255 88 02
Mayura Meerang, Postdoctoral research fellow
Michaela Kirschner, Postdoctoral research fellow
Vanessa Orlowski, lab technician
Olivia Lauk, resident surgeon
Kathrin Oehl, PhD Student
Martina Friess, data manager
Chloé Spichiger, research administration
Guillaume Wuilleret, doctoral student
Tadeusz Brunn, doctoral student
Max Lacour, doctoral student
Jessica Kreienbühl, doctoral student
Seraina Müller, master student
Gian-Marco Monsch, doctoral student
Ornella Crameri, master student
Lukas Funke, master student
The research focus of the working group led by Prof. Dr. Isabelle Schmitt-Opitz is the improvement of malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment. In order to achieve this aim, various translational projects are conducted to.
One main focus of experimental research is the investigation of new therapeutic approaches using cell culture and small animal models of malignant pleural mesothelioma.Long-term work in this field formed the basis for clinical application of the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin, bound to the endogenous adhesive fibrin, in the thoracic cavity (so-called intracavitary therapy) after surgical extraction of the tumor. After a decade of research in the laboratory, this combination is currently tested in a clinical phase II study (INFLuenCe-Meso).In further experimental studies, we now examine the possibility to use intracavitary chemotherapy to sensitize patients for a subsequent radiotherapy. This would allow the use of a lower radiation dose and thus this form of therapy would be available to a larger amount of patients. In a second project, we search for new medication for the treatment of mesothelioma. For this purpose we treat cells isolated from the tumor tissue (cultivated in petri dishes) with various new active substances and examine the effect on the cell growth. The investigated active substances are e.g. inhibitors of proteins and signal pathways, which are overexpressed in mesothelioma and most likely play an important role in the development and progression of mesothelioma.
The second focus is the identification of new molecular markers, which are traceable in the tumor tissue or blood of patients. We are interested in i) prognostic markers, allowing a general indication about the patients' prognosis, and ii) predictive markers able to predict the success of chemotherapy or other treatments. Predictive markers are especially important, as the information about the possible success or failure of a certain treatment method keeps the patient from unnecessary unsuccessful treatments and allows a personalized therapy concept for each individual patient. The examined molecular markers are proteins in the tumor tissue, microRNAs (small pieces of genetic information, which play an important role in the fine adjustment of signal pathways in the cells), and mutations in the genetic information, which lead to changes of the tumor cells characteristics. For these studies, we are working in close collaboration with Clinical Pathology.
Furthermore, Prof. Schmitt-Opitz is leading the study "Mesoscape 001 - pS6", initiated by the European Thoracic Oncology Platform (ETOP). Mesoscape is a Europe-wide central virtual tumour bank combined with a clinical database, which will allow participating centres (hospitals and universities) to examine a large amount of cases to find new biomarkers. The first project "Mesoscape 001 - pS6", is a validation of the possible new prognostic tumour marker pS6, which has been recently identified by Prof. Schmitt-Opitz's team.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), multimodal therapy, intraoperative therapy, biological markers
5 Selected Publications
Opitz I, Friess M, Kestenholz P, Schneiter D, Frauenfelder T, Nguyen-Kim DL, Seifert B, Hoda MA, Klepetko W, Stahel RA, Weder W. A new prognostic score supporting treatment allocation for multimodality therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma- A review of 12 years' experience. J Thorac Oncol. 2015 Nov;10(11):1634-41
Bitanihirwe B, Meerang M, Friess M, Soltermann A, Frischknecht L, Thies S, Felley-Bosco E, Tsao M, Allo G, de Perrot M, Seifert B, Moch H, Stahel R, Weder W, Opitz I. PI3K/mTOR Signaling in Mesothelioma Patients Treated with Induction Chemotherapy Followed by Extrapleural Pneumonectomy. J Thorac Oncol. 2014 Feb;9(2):239-47
Frauenfelder T, Tutic M, Weder W, Götti RP, Stahel RA, Seifert B, Opitz I. Volumetry: an alternative to assess therapy response for malignant pleural mesothelioma? Eur Respir J. 2011 Jul;38(1):162-8
Opitz I, Erne B, Demirbas S, Jetter A, Seifert B, Stahel RA, Weder W. Optimized intrapleural cisplatin chemotherapy with a fibrin carrier after extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma – a preclinical study. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011 Jan;141(1):65-71
Opitz I, Soltermann A, Abaecherli M, Hinterberger M, Probst-Hensch N, Stahel R, Moch H, Weder W (2008) PTEN expression is a strong predictor of survival in mesothelioma patients. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. Mar; 33(3): 502-6
Opitz I, Lardinois D, Arni S, Hillinger S, Vogt B, Odermatt B, Rousson V, Weder W. Local Recurrence model of malignant pleural mesothelioma for investigation of intrapleural treatment. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2007 May; 31(5): 773-8
Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Cancer League, Lunge Zürich, Vontobel Foundation, Huggenberger Foundation, Matching Fund of University of Zurich, Becon Foundation, Polianthes Foundation, SAKF Foundation, SUVA