Exploring neuroblastoma by sequencing technology

Project leaders: Lars O. Baumbusch and Klaus Beiske

We aim to improve the life expectancy of children with pediatric cancer, as childhood malignancies are still the dominant cause of death by disease among children over one year of age in high income countries. Heterogeneity represents one of the fundamental challenges for cancer diagnosis and treatment. We hypothesize that investigating the heterogeneity of the primary tumor and minimal residual disease at the genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic level will lead to an enhanced understanding of tumor aggressiveness and therapy response.
Neuroblastoma (NB) is a cancer of the early childhood, characterized by extreme clinical, biological, and genetic diversity. The 10-year overall survival rate for NB is about 50%. High-risk NB patients with primary resistant or relapsing disease are treated with one of the most intensive therapy regiments in modern pediatric oncology; nevertheless, a successful treatment is currently missing and the prognosis is poor.
We will explore the primary tumor and corresponding disseminated tumor cells applying single cell methods in combination with sequencing technologies, established from adult cancers and supported by advanced bioinformatic tools. Initial findings will be verified in a larger validation cohort and by functional cell-lines studies. We believe that understanding the genetic and compositional heterogeneity in tumors is crucial for essential progress of improved drug development, biomarkers, and treatment susceptibility.

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