The focus of the Lübbert lab is the preclinical development of anticancer treatment strategies using different models (acute myeloid leukemia, MDS, lung cancer), and in vivo validation of these approaches.
Michael Lübbert has received his post-doctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the lab of Professor Phillip Koeffler, and in 1989 has started his own lab at the Freiburg Medical Center. His group has a longstanding focus on studying the role of aberrant DNA methylation in myeloid cancers, determining the methylation patterns with different assays, and using DNA hypomethylating agents which interfere with the cancer cell methylome. These activities are not limited to laboratory work but with the firm goal to rapidly translate the results to clinical application. Therefore he has also conducted the first large clinical trials with a DNA hypomethylating drug in Germany, demonstrating not only clinical efficacy but also, for the first time, in vivo DNA hypomethylation induced in the cancer cells by this novel treatment.
Combining these drugs with other epigenetically active agents such as histone deacetylase inhibitors, and the differentiating agent All-trans retinoic acid, the group could recently demonstrate synergistic effects in vitro, and has conducted a large, multicenter randomized clinical trial in AML patients studying the therapeutic effect of these different drug combinations.
While the development of epigenetic therapies for AML and other diseases has recently seen major progress, the pathomechanisms by which cancer cells acquire their abnormal epigenotypes are still only poorly understood. A particular interest of the Lübbert lab is to better understand the way leukemia-specific oncogenes modify the methylome and other global epigenetic features of AML. Here the well-defined AML subtype of with maturation bearing the translocation (8;21), with resultant AML1/ETO fusion protein, serves as an excellent model to study these modifications. Here also, the long-term goal is to improve the prognosis of patients with this genetically defined type of leukemia.
Michael Lübbert has been author or co-author of >200 publications listed in Pubmed, and has served as editor of a book on Epigenetic therapy of cancer (Springer 2014).