Dr Alexandra Aicher

Dr Alexandra Aicher

MD, Dr. med. habil
Centre: Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer and Ageing
Senior Lecturer
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QMUL Directory

I am interested in the regulation of cancer stem cells by epigenetic mechanisms. I work on CAR T-cell therapies for pancreatic cancer and cancer cells escaping immune surveillance.

Research Details

Over the last decade my research was primarily focussed on the role of stem and progenitor cells in tissue homeostasis and disease. These studies recently expanded to projects focussing on the regulatory machinery of cancer stem cells and studying the role of pluripotency-related genes with particular emphasis on pancreatic cancer.

In this context, we are very interested in the regulation of cancer stem cells by epigenetic mechanisms related to iPS reprogramming.

A new line of research in the lab is now based on the identification and validation of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell targets for pancreatic cancer stem cells with the ultimate goal of developing preclinical and clinical CAR T-cell therapies in pancreatic cancer.

An important aspect of our work also relies in mechanistic studies on the escape of immune surveillance as this will be an important determinant for the success of immunotherapy.


  • 2011-2014 - Visiting Professor at the Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO), Madrid, Spain under the MICINN Subprogram for the Promotion of International Scientific Cooperation
  • 2008-2010 - Chair in Cell-based Therapy, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
  • 2006 - Postdoctoral lecturer's qualification: Habilitation (Dr. med. habil.) for Experimental Medicine (Habilitation thesis: Role and function of dendritic cells), Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany
  • 2000-2007 - Senior Scientist, Department of Internal Medicine III, Division of Molecular Cardiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany
  • 1999-2000 - Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Pharmacology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe- University Frankfurt, Germany
  • 1997-1999 - Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • 1994-1997 - Internship / Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Medical Oncology and Tumor Immunology, Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
  • 1995 - Medical doctoral thesis (M.D.) with magna cum laude (M.D. thesis: Photodynamic therapy of human bladder cancer with liposome-encapsulated ATPPn), Department of Urology, University of Ulm, Germany
  • 1987-1994 - Studies of Medicine at the University of Ulm and at the Christian-Albrecht University of Kiel, Germany


  • 2015 - 2016: Pancreatic Cancer UK, "Development of an effective chimeric antigenic receptor-based immunotherapeutic strategy for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma", £75,000

Key Publications

Cioffi M, Vallespinos-Serrano M, Trabulo SM, Fernandez-Marcos PJ, Firment AN, Vazquez BN, Vieira CR, Mulero F, Camara JA, Cronin UP, Perez M, Soriano J, G Galvez B, Castells-Garcia A, Haage V, Raj D, Megias D, Hahn S, Serrano L, Moon A, Aicher A, Heeschen C. MiR-93 controls adiposity by inhibition of Sirt-7 and Tbx3. Cell Rep. (2015) 12: 1594-605. PMID: 26321631

Raj D, Aicher A, Heeschen C. Concise Review: Stem Cells in Pancreatic Cancer: From Concept to Translation. Stem Cells. (2015) 33:2893-902. PMID: 26202953

Hermann PC, Sancho P, Cañamero M, Martinelli P, Madriles F, Michl P, Gress T, de Pascual R, Gandia L, Guerra C, Barbacid M, Wagner M, Vieira CR, Aicher A, Real FX, Sainz B Jr, Heeschen C. Nicotine Promotes Initiation and Progression of KRAS-induced Pancreatic Cancer via Gata6-dependent Dedifferentiation of Acinar Cells in Mice. Gastroenterology (2014) Aug 12. PMID: 25127677

Schwarz TM, Leicht SF, Radic T, Rodriguez-Arabaolaza I, Hermann PC, Berger F, Saif J, Böcker W, Ellwart JW, Aicher A, Heeschen C. Vascular incorporation of endothelial colony-forming cells is essential for functional recovery of murine ischemic tissue following cell therapy. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. (2012) 2012 Feb;32(2):e13-21. PMID: 22199368

Further Publications

Additional publications will be available here.

I am interested in the regulation of cancer stem cells by epigenetic mechanisms. I work on CAR T-cell therapies for pancreatic cancer and cancer cells escaping immune surveillance.

See other researchers working on:

Cancer and Ageing Immunology Pancreas Stem Cells
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