Prof. Burkhard Becher


Inflammation, Cancer, Cytokines, Single cell cytometry, Immunophenotyping.

What we investigate

Our laboratory has a long-standing interest in the communication networks, which control and drive tissue inflammation. These communication conduits studied in models of skin inflammation are harnessed in immunotherapy of patients suffering from skin cancer. We aim to understand the intricate interactions between immune cells and the affected tissue and to define new therapeutic targets for intervention. 

Our research in more detail

Abbildung Becher

Treatment of aggressive skin cancers made a quantum leap with the advent of immunotherapy that inhibits endogenous T cell inhibitions (check-points). Unfortunately, only 50% of patients show a durable clinical benefit and predictive biomarkers of clinical response are urgently needed. To interrogate the immune compartment of cancer patients we have developed the capacity to interrogate a large number of patients through high-dimensional single cell mapping of routine biopsy material. The main idea is to interrogate the systemic immune compartment as well as the local tumor microenvironment (TME) to identify predictive biomarkers for treatment response. Moreover,  understanding the complex immune network required for (or preventing) a successful and sustainable anti-tumor immune response, will be possible through in depth quantitative immunophenotyping of the large cohort of patients in Zurich. This discovery pipeline can be expanded to studying the immunophenotype of other skin cancer entities as well as other therapies (i.e., combination immunotherapy, oncolytic viruses, and targeted therapy). This high-throughput systematic approach will provide a rich and in depth view of the TME in skin cancer and thereby help to improve therapeutic targeting.

Selected publications

SKINTEGRITY.CH Principal Investigators are underlined:

  • Selected Publications and Patents Related to SKINTEGRITY.CH  (SKINTEGRITY.CH PIs are underlined).
    Friebel E, Kapolou K, Unger S, Núñez NG, Utz S, Rushing EJ, Regli L, Weller M, Greter M, Tugues S, Neidert MC and Becher B. (2020).
    Single-Cell Mapping of Human Brain Cancer Reveals Tumor-Specific Instruction of Tissue-Invading Leukocytes. Cell 181, 1626–1642.
  • Apostolova P, Unger S, Von Bubnoff D, Meiss F, Becher B and Zeiser R. (2020). Extracorporeal photopheresis for colitis induced by checkpoint-inhibitor therapy. N Engl J Med 382, 294–296.
  • Galli E, Hartmann FJ, Schreiner B, Ingelfinger F, Arvaniti E, Diebold M, Mrdjen D, van der Meer F, Krieg C, Nimer FA, Sanderson N, Stadelmann C, Khademi M, Piehl F, Claassen M, Derfuss T, Olsson T and Becher B (2019). GM-CSF and CXCR4 define a T helper cell signature in multiple sclerosis. Nat Med 25, 1290-1300.
  • Tugues S, Amorim A, Spath S, Martin-Blondel G, Schreiner B, De Feo D, Lutz M, Guscetti F, Apostolova P, Haftmann C, Hasselblatt P, Nunez NG, Hottiger MO, van den Broek M, Manz MG, Zeiser R and Becher B (2018). Graft-versus-host disease, but not graft-versus-leukemia immunity, is mediated by GM-CSF-licensed myeloid cells. Sci Transl Med 10, 469.
  • Krieg C, Nowicka M, Guglietta S, Schindler S, Hartmann FJ, Weber LM, Dummer R, Robinson MD, Levesque MP, and Becher B. (2018). High dimensional single cell analysis predicts response to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. Nat Med 24: 144-153.