BINDER Innovation Prize 2017 in Leipzig

May 2017 BINDER Innovation Prize 2017
BINDER Innovation Prize 2017

Cultivating skin stem cells for the fight against cancer

Dr. Sara Wickström from the Max Plank Institute in Cologne has been awarded the BINDER Innovation Prize for her research into the regulation of adult stem cells for the development of new treatments to combat cancers.


The BINDER Innovation Prize from the German Society for Cell Biology (DGZ) was received by Dr. Sara Wickström, Research Group Leader at the Max Plank Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, for her pioneering research on the fundamental regulation principles of epidermal stem cells. The prize, which includes a 4,000 euro endowment, was awarded at the International Meeting of the DGZ on March 1 at Universität Leipzig. The prize is given annually for outstanding work in basic cell biology research.


The skin has to be renewed constantly over the course of our lifetimes. To maintain and repair it, various stem cells are required. When a person ages, this highly regulated system can get out of control. As a result, diseases such as skin cancer can arise. Dr. Sara Wickström wants to understand how stem cells are regulated. Clarifying these regulation principles will further advance the development of stem-cell therapies and effective treatment approaches to slow down aging processes and prevent age-related illnesses, such as cancer.


With a new method, the researchers have been able to successfully cultivate hair-follicle stem cells from mice in-vitro for the first time. Embedded in a gel made of natural skin proteins, the hair-follicle stem cells can be cultivated over a long period of time. What's more, fully developed skin cells can be reprogrammed to form stem cells in this system. The new cell-culture system could be groundbreaking in terms of new approaches to treatments. It means that it is now possible to monitor and manipulate cells precisely.


Since 1998, the BINDER Innovation Prize has been awarded annually by the DGZ. The prize money is underwritten by BINDER GmbH, the world's largest specialist in simulation chambers for scientific and industrial laboratories.