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Gaining A Better Understanding of Ependymoma 

New Research Profiles Childhood Brain Tumors to Develop Targeted Therapies  

Pediatric neuro-oncologist Stefan Pfister, M.D., at the Hopp Children´s Cancer Center at the NCT Heidelberg (KiTZ), is investigating the molecular profiles of childhood brain tumors like ependymoma in hopes of developing novel treatments for patients.

“An important step to improve treatment is to understand the different biological subgroups that drive the disease,” says Dr. Pfister. His research with the support of the CERN Foundation and its investigators has identified a total of nine subgroups of ependymoma, all of which in the end might need different treatment.
Researching the cell of origin
Dr. Pfister's investigations have started with trying to understand the cell of origin of the disease so he can create a preclinical model of the disease in his lab.

“We think that really defining the cell type specific to the ependymoma subgroup it derives from will guide our decision for therapeutic targets,” says Dr. Pfister.  “We want to be able to mark the tumor cell of origin in order to sort these cells and generate faithful models for preclinical drug testing.”

The effort mimics research in leukemia, in which researchers were able to identify and mark the cell of origin and then make it vulnerable. This could potentially also be exploited for future immunotherapy approaches.


Therapeutic Targeting of Ependymoma As Informed By Oncogenic Enhancer Profiling

Scientists have now developed a molecular approach that may open new treatment prospects for ependymoma.

The genetic causes for ependymomas development are largely unknown and there are no targeted treatments to date. In the quest for novel therapeutic approaches in the treatment of ependymoma, scientists began testing an alternative approach. They took a closer look at so-called enhancers, regions of the genome that regulate the activity of genes. They were able to demonstrate that these enhancer elements regulate molecules that are involved in key cellular processes and may therefore be used as targets for targeted therapies. Info provided by: German Cancer Research Center.

To read the Nature article, CLICK HERE.
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