Winner of the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize 2022 Investigates Influence of Vitamin D on Malignant Melanoma

Recently the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize was awarded for the eighth time. With “Research for Health” as the theme, the ceremony took place at the Hevert Naturopathy Conference in Mainz. Professor Jörg Reichrath, senior physician and deputy clinic director of the Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology at Saarland University Hospital, was delighted to receive the award, which is endowed with 10,000 euros.

For his planned study on the significance of vitamin D on the clinical course of metastatic malignant melanoma, Professor Jörg Reichrath, senior physician and deputy clinic director of the Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology at Saarland University Hospital, receives the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize 2022, endowed with 10,000 euros. ©Hevert-Foundation

With the planned work “Bedeutung des Vitamin-D-Status und Einfluss der oralen Vitamin-D-Supplementierung auf den klinischen Verlauf des metastasierten malignen Melanoms” (Importance of Vitamin D Status and Influence of Oral Vitamin D Supplementation on the Clinical Course of Metastatic Malignant Melanoma), Professor Jörg Reichrath and his team want to improve the prognosis of patients with malignant melanoma. In doing so, they are pursuing a holistic approach with vitamin D supplementation and combining elements of naturopathy and conventional medicine into an overall concept, which unanimously convinced the independent jury of experts as a prime example of integrative medicine.

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread and represents a serious health problem both in Germany and worldwide. According to current studies by the Robert Koch Institute and other institutions, around 60 percent of the German population have vitamin D levels that are too low.

Lower mortality and tumor burden

In oncological research, the “sunshine vitamin” vitamin D has now come into focus. In previous work, Reichrath and colleagues demonstrated the association of good vitamin D status with a positive clinical course of malignant melanoma disease, as well as a positive effect on overall survival. “With the planned randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial, we now want to investigate the effect of vitamin D intake on overall and melanoma-specific mortality in more detail. Other endpoints include the potential impact on tumor burden and screening for side effects,” he said. “I am thrilled that the project impressed the jury and that the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize will help finance this elaborate project.”

The study is divided into two sub-projects. First, the association of vitamin D status with the clinical course of metastatic malignant melanoma from the pilot study will be validated. The researchers will subsequently determine whether a causal relationship exists here. Patients with metastatic malignant melanoma who have started drug-based tumor therapy will be divided into two randomized groups: Group 1 will receive a daily placebo in addition to tumor therapy, while Group 2 will receive a daily tablet containing 1000 IU of vitamin D in addition to tumor therapy.

High quality of submissions

According to the expert jury, the proportion of top-class submissions has never been as high as this year – especially regarding the quality of the study design and the relevance of the topics. Thus, current projects on COVID-19 and post-COVID syndrome as well as other promising projects from renowned institutions, such as from the oncological field, were represented. However, when it came to the award, naturopathy expert Professor Karin Kraft from the University of Rostock, clinical psychologist Professor Harald Walach and biological medicine expert, general practitioner Dr. Rainer Matejka from the University of Milan, were in agreement. In particular, the expert panel emphasized the considerable naturopathic and health policy relevance of the innovative approach. Malignant melanoma is a very specific indication but still quite problematic to treat. The results could also drive further studies on other types of carcinoma, which could lead to the much-needed positive public attention in the field of integrative oncology.

"From our point of view, the jury made a good choice," say the siblings and board members of the Hevert-Foundation, Sarah, Mathias and Marcus Hevert. “The work of Professor Reichrath fits the vision of the person the prize is named after, our father Dr. Wolfgang Hevert (deceased in 2003), who worked tirelessly for naturopathy and innovations in naturopathic, integrative therapy approaches.” The fact that the award is bearing fruit can be seen, for example, in the work of award winner Nina Bauer from 2020. “We stay in contact with the award winners and are always curious to see what becomes of the submitted projects,” says Mathias Hevert. “Ms. Bauer recently published her first results on ‘Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience’ under the title ‘Mind-Body-Medicine and Comprehensive Lifestyle-Modification in Patients with Crohn’s Disease’. We are, of course, thrilled to hear this.”

Representatives of the expert jury and Hevert present this year's winner with the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize, endowed with 10,000 euros, at a symposium in Mainz in a festive setting (from left to right): Dr. Rainer Matejka, representing the jury and a general practitioner and expert in biological medicine from the University of Milan; Professor Jörg Reichrath, senior physician and deputy clinic director of the Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology at Saarland University Hospital; Mathias Hevert, Managing Director of Hevert-Arzneimittel GmbH & Co. KG and Deputy Chairman of the Hevert Foundation; Sarah Hevert, Chair of the Board of the Hevert-Foundation. ©Hevert-Foundation

Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize 2024

Since 2010, the Hevert-Foundation has been awarding the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize every two years in cooperation with Hevert-Arzneimittel GmbH & Co. KG. An independent jury of experts awards planned, scientific, non-commercial study projects dealing with questions regarding European naturopathy. The next time the prize will be awarded is in 2024 and new, innovative projects can then be submitted again.

Overview of previous prize winners since 2016

2020: "The effect of a stress reduction and lifestyle modification program within the framework of naturopathic lifestyle therapy on the quality of life and symptoms of patients with Crohn's disease", Nina Bauer (M.Sc. Psychology), Clinic for Integrative Medicine and Naturopathy, Klinikum Am Bruderwald of the Sozialstiftung Bamberg

2018: “Better together? A randomized placebo-controlled trial assessing the effects of vitamins D and K2 on cognition: the Vita-DKcog study“, Dr. Jacqueline A. Pettersen, Prince George, British Colombia, Canada.

2016: “Functional and structural imaging in children with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (AD(H)D) during homeopathic and conventional therapy”, Dr. med Klaus von Ammon, Bern, Switzerland.

About the Hevert-Foundation

Social responsibility and sustainable support are part of the core philosophy of the Berlin-based Hevert-Foundation. The purposes of the charitable foundation include the promotion of science and research in the fields of naturopathy, nature and landscape conservation, public health or education. In summary, the foundation focuses on promoting the health of humans and nature. The projects range from supporting education, health and nutrition, for example in Gando, Burkina Faso, and cooperating with the Carstens Foundation to the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize for the promotion of science and research.

Further information about the Hevert-Foundation and the projects: www.hevert-foundation.org

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