“As a biologist I know that rare diseases need our support and need private initiative. An early assay for secondary tumors would clearly improve the outcome of retinoblastoma patients, and additionally would be also a potential test for other tumor diseases…”

Gregor König, Chairman of the KinderAugenKrebsStiftung



The aim of the project is the development of a premature test for second tumors after retinoblastoma (60 cases in Germany / 350 cases in the US per year). For this, appropriate biomarkers should be identified.

It is already known that secondary tumors (including the neuroblastoma) are almost always GD2-positive (Schulz et al., 1984). Based on this information, the idea emerged that the development of a test that identifies GD2 or GD2-dependent biomarkers could help to early diagnose secondary tumors.


Recurrences and metastases are a much smaller problem in retinoblastoma than secondary tumors. Secondary tumors may arise due to genetics (as any cell is affected) at anytime and anywhere in the body. By detecting defined biomarkers, using a simple but highly sensitive method, it would be possible to detect these secondary tumors early and would allow to treat them according to that at an early stage. A biomarker, which has already been detected on the retinoblastoma cells, is the  ganglioside GD2. Up to now, however, tests have not been sensitive enough to detect GD2.

Within the project, biomarkers for secondary tumors, which have already been identified in vitro, will be evaluated. Besides this an immunoassay for the detection of GD2 or GD2-dependent biomarkers will be developed within a feasibility study. The test should then be applied to a defined cohort in order to confirm the benefit.

The Waltraut Bergmann Foundation, together with the Kinder Augenkrebs Stiftung (Children's Eye Cancer Foundation), supports the development of a high-sensitivity test for the early diagnosis of second tumors.

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Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor in the retina of the eye, 45% of patients have the inherited form of retinoblastoma and 55% non-hereditary.


Cells that spread out in the body and accumulate away from the original tumor. These further tumors are called metastases. Sometimes they are also called daughter tumors.

Secondary tumors

Denotes the formation of a second malignant tumor infiltration at a later time.

Ganglioside GD2

Gangliosides are components of cell membranes. They belong to the substance class of sphingolipids, a substance class of the fats. Sphingolipids together with other fats forms the cell membrane.


Method for the detection of an analyte. The method makes use of the strong, selective binding of antibody and antigen.


Antibodies binding to body-specific surface antigens.

Suface antigens

Structures on the surface of cells that make the cell recognizable by the immune system.


The recurrence of a disease after a previously successful therapy. The recurrence of tumors is called tumor recurrence.


Measurable parameter on which predictive, prognostic or diagnostic statements can be made and thus provide information about a disease.