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Thyroid carcinoma: Biomarker reveals cancer cause

Neuherberg, Germany, 07 October 2014. The expression of the protein CLIP2* provides information on whether a papillary thyroid carcinoma was induced by radiation or had a sporadic origin. With this discovery, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München have identified a new biomarker for the diagnosis of the cancer cause. Their findings have been published in the journal 'Oncogene'.

Immunohistochemical evidence of CLIP2 in sporadic (left) and radiation induced (right) thyroid carcinoma. Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

CLIP2 serves as a radiation marker: After exposure to radiation from radioiodine, both the genetic activity and the protein expression are increased, as the scientists' studies were able to substantiate.

CLIP2 appears to be particularly significant in the development of tumours in the thyroid gland after radiation exposure. The team around Martin Selmansberger, Dr. Julia Heß, Dr. Kristian Unger and Prof. Dr. Horst Zitzelsberger from the Radiation Cytogenetics Research Unit at the Helmholtz Zentrum München discovered a connection between high CLIP2 levels and the radiation history of patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma. "In our study, we were able to verify radiation-associated CLIP2 expression at the protein level in three different cohorts of patients with thyroid carcinoma," reports first author Selmansberger. The research paper was prepared at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in cooperation with the Institute of Radiation Protection and the Analytical Pathology Research Unit.

Radiation marker CLIP2 allows distinction of cancer cause and risk assessment

"CLIP2 serves as a radiation marker and allows us to distinguish between radiation-induced and sporadic thyroid carcinomas," adds study leader Heß. In their investigations, the scientists developed a standardized method to determine the CLIP2 biomarker status. "This biomarker allows us both to draw conclusions about the mechanisms involved in the development of such tumours and to evaluate the risk of thyroid cancer after exposure to high level radiation, for instance, following a radiation accident," reports Heß.

Health research at Helmholtz Zentrum München is focused on major widespread diseases. In addition to diabetes and lung diseases, these also include cancer. The objective of Helmholtz Zentrum München is the rapid further development of the results of basic research in order to provide benefits for society.


Dr. Julia Heß, Martin Selmansberger | Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

Further Information

*CAP-GLY domain containing linker protein 2. The exact function of CLIP2 in the carcinogenesis of thyroid carcinoma is unknown. Reconstruction of the CLIP2 gene regulatory network suggests, however, that CLIP2 is involved in fundamental carcinogenic processes and that it consequently contributes to tumour development.


Original publication:
Selmansberger, M. et al. (2014). CLIP2 as radiation biomarker in papillary thyroid carcinoma, Oncogene, doi:10.1038/onc.2014.311

Link to publication

The Helmholtz Zentrum München, as the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the objective of developing personalized medicine for the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of wide-spread diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To this end, it investigates the interactions of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Zentrum's headquarters is located in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. The Helmholtz Zentrum München employs around 2,200 people and is a member of the Helmholtz Association, which has 18 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres with around 34,000 employees. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de

The independent Radiation Cytogenetics Research Unit (ZYTO) investigates radiation-induced chromosome and DNA damage in cell systems and human tumours. The focus is on clarifying the mechanisms associated with radiation-induced carcinogenesis and radiation sensitivity of tumour cells. The aim of this research is to find biomarkers associated with radiation-induced tumours in order to develop personalized radiation therapy for the stratification of patients. ZYTO is a part of the Department of Radiation Sciences (DRS).



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Scientific contact
Dr. Julia Heß, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Radiation Cytogenetics Research Unit, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg - Phone: 089-3187-3517 -