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Susanne Kossatz - Imaging and Biomarkers in Oncology

Research Focus

In the research group “Imaging and Biomarkers in Oncology”, we develop biomarker-targeted approaches for molecularly selective tumor detection and therapy. We are exploring this approach in a wide range of tumor types, which are displaying patterns of overexpressed biomarkers on tumor cells. These can be addressed by peptides, small-molecules, antibodies or other targeting structures. A focus of our lab is to select targeting ligands and optimize strategies for their labeling with radioactive isotopes to enable molecular imaging and endogenous radioligand therapy. We conduct extensive biological validation studies to assess and optimize the characteristics and efficacy of such agents before moving to in vivo applications with the goal of eventual clinical translation. We currently focus our work on biomarkers relevant in prostate cancer, neuroendocrine tumors, pancreatic cancer and head and neck cancer.

In addition to developing radiopharmaceuticals for imaging and therapy, we are also adapting our ligands for intraoperative imaging applications. By attaching a fluorophore, ligands are becoming fluorescent agents that enable image-guided tumor resections, which have the goal to allow for more accurate and complete removal of tumor cells during surgery while sparing healthy tissue.

Moreover, our approach includes targeted drug delivery into tumors, specifically by attaching chemotherapeutics to our targeting ligands to achieve a tumor-selective therapeutic effect of otherwise highly toxic and/or non-selective agents and to improve their therapeutic window, especially in combination therapy/radiosensitization approaches. We are designing multimodal agents combining imaging and therapy aspects into a single molecule, enabling in-depths validation and quantification of the mechanisms at work. In this context, we are taking advantage of the highly complementary value of integrating nuclear and fluorescent information to confirm and quantify delivery and target engagement.

A large part of our work is to design, validate and optimize the ligand variants described above to achieve suitable characteristics for translation into humans. Biomarkers of interest include, but are not limited to integrins, prostate-specific membrane antigen, somatostatin-receptors and DNA repair enzymes, such as PARP1.

We have open positions for Dr. med. candidates. Please contact us.

Susanne Kossatz studied Biology at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena from where she also obtained her PhD in the field of Molecular Imaging. She conducted her postdoctoral studies in the Thomas Reiner Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. In April 2019, she joined the faculty of MRI-TUM as Rudolf Mößbauer Tenure Track Assistant Professor in the Department of Nuclear Medicine, where she heads the research group “Imaging and Biomarkers in Oncology”. Her research focuses on the development of biomarker-targeted approaches for molecularly selective tumor detection and therapy by the means of radioactively and/or fluorescently labelled probes. Potential clinical application for this work includes whole body imaging with PET and SPECT for tumor detection and treatment monitoring, fluorescence-guided surgery, radiosensitization and radioligand therapy.  The Kossatz labs applies an interdisciplinary and multimodal approach to investigate radioactively and fluorescently labelled small molecules, peptides and antibodies, and conduct their pharmacokinetic optimization and preclinical validation to evaluate their potential for clinical use. Susanne Kossatz is also the scientific co-lead of the Preclinical Imaging Core Facility (PICTUM) at TranslaTUM. Since 2022, she also serves in the Board of Directors of TranslaTUM.

  • “Saul Hertz” Young Investigator Award at the 6th Theranostics World Congress in Wiesbaden (2022)
  • Alavi-Mandell Publication Award of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2019)
  • Named one of “30 under 35” early career professionals “to watch” in 2019 by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI)
  • K99/R00 “Pathway to Independence” Award by the NIH (2018)
  • Research Fellowship for a Postdoctoral Fellow from the Center of Molecular Imaging and Nanotechnology (CMINT) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2015)
  • Chief Laboratory Research Fellow in the Dept. of Radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2015-2019)
  • Young Investigator Award from the Center for Molecular Imaging Innovation and Translation (CMIIT) at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Imaging (SNMMI) annual meeting (2015)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG, 2014)
  • Young Investigator Award, 92nd German Radiology Conference (2011)

Quigley, N.G., Steiger, K., Hoberuck, S., Czech, N., Zierke, M.A., Kossatz, S., Pretze, M., Richter, F., Weichert, W., Pox, C., Kotzerke, J., and Notni, J. (2022). PET/CT imaging of head-and-neck and pancreatic cancer in humans by targeting the "Cancer Integrin" αvβ6 with Ga-68-Trivehexin. European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 49, 1136-1147.

De Souza França PD*, Kossatz, S.*, Brand, C., Zanoni, D.K., Roberts, S., Guru, N., Adilbay, D., Mauguen, A., Mayor, C.V., Weber, W.A., Schoder, H., Ghossein, R.A., Ganly, I., Patel, S.G., and Reiner, T. (2021). A phase I study of a PARP1-targeted topical fluorophore for the detection of oral cancer. European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. 48, 3618-3630.

Ludwig, B.S., Tomassi, S., Di Maro, S., Di Leva, F.S., Benge, A., Reichart, F., Nieberler, M., Kuhn, F.E., Kessler, H., Marinelli, L., Reuning, U., and Kossatz, S. (2021). The organometallic ferrocene exhibits amplified anti-tumor activity by targeted delivery via highly selective ligands to alpha v beta 3, alpha v beta 6, or alpha 5 beta 1 integrins. Biomaterials 271, 120754.

Kossatz, S., Pirovano, G., De Souza França PD., Strome, A.L., Sunny, S.P., Zanoni, D.K., Mauguen, A., Carney, B., Brand, C., Shah, V., Ramanajinappa, R.D., Hedne, N., Birur, P., Sihag, S., Ghossein, R.A., Gonen, M., Strome, M., Suresh, A., Molena, D., Ganly, I., Kuriakose, M.A., Patel, S.G., and Reiner, T. (2020). Validation of the use of a fluorescent PARP1 inhibitor for the detection of oral, oropharyngeal and oesophageal epithelial cancers. Nature Biomedical Engineering 4 (3), 272-285.

Hernandez Vargas, S., Kossatz, S., Voss, J., Ghosh, S.C., Tran Cao, H.S., Simien, J., Reiner, T., Dhingra, S., Fisher, W.E., and Azhdarinia, A. (2019). Specific Targeting of Somatostatin Receptor Subtype-2 for Fluorescence-Guided Surgery. Clinical Cancer Research 25, 4332-4342.

Carney, B., Kossatz, S., Lok, B.H., Schneeberger, V., Gangangari, K.K., Pillarsetty, N.V.K., Weber, W.A., Rudin, C.M., Poirier, J.T., and Reiner, T. (2018). Target engagement imaging of PARP inhibitors in small-cell lung cancer. Nature communications 9, 176.

Kossatz, S., Carney, B., Farley, C., Weber, W.A., Drain, C.M., and Reiner, T. (2018). Direct Imaging of Drug Distribution and Target Engagement of the PARP Inhibitor Rucaparib. Journal of Nuclear Medicine 59, 1316-1320.

Kossatz, S., Carney, B., Schweitzer, M.E., Carlucci, G., Miloushev, V., Maachani, U.B., Rajappa, P., Keshari, K., Pisapia, D.J., Weber, W.A., Souweidane, M.M., and Reiner, T. (2017). Biomarker based PET Imaging of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma in Mouse Models. Cancer Research 77 (8), 2112-2123.

Kossatz, S., Brand, C., Gutiontov, S., Liu, J.T., Lee, N.Y., Gonen, M., Weber, W.A., and Reiner, T. (2016). Detection and delineation of oral cancer with a PARP1 targeted optical imaging agent. Scientific reports 6, 21371.

Kossatz, S., Grandke, J., Couleaud, P., Latorre, A., Aires, A., Crosbie-Staunton, K., Ludwig, R., Dahring, H., Ettelt, V., Lazaro-Carrillo, A., Calero, M., Sader, M., Courty, J., Volkov, Y., Prina-Mello, A., Villanueva, A., Somoza, A., Cortajarena, A.L., Miranda, R., and Hilger, I. (2015). Efficient treatment of breast cancer xenografts with multifunctionalized iron oxide nanoparticles combining magnetic hyperthermia and anti-cancer drug delivery. Breast Cancer Research 17, 66.

* contributed equally

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Prof. Dr. Susanne Kossatz
Technical University of Munich
School of Medicine
Clinic and Polyclinic for Nuclear Medicine
Phone: +49 89 4140 9134