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Central Máxima Organoid Bank (CMOB)

Primary patient material can be grown in the lab as organoids, three-dimensional stem cell-derived tissue structures which can be used as pre-clinical research models. The Central Máxima Organoid Biobank (CMOB) will grow a selection of pediatric tumor organoids in a standardized and reproducible manner. The tumor organoids will be molecularly characterized before they are  made available for research. The CMOB will eventually enable researchers to study several forms of childhood cancer in the lab. These are primarily fellow researchers at the Máxima Center, but in the long term external researchers and companies can apply too. The CMOB thereby aims to accelerate the development of new therapies against childhood cancer.

Purpose for research

All forms of childhood cancer are rare. For many of these tumors, there are only very limited models available to study them in the lab. The models that do exist – for example cell lines or mice – do not always correspond well with the original tumor in the child's body. A more recent type of research model to simulate tumors in the lab are organoids. Adult stem cell-derived organoids are self-organizing structures grown in vitro that faithfully represent the tissue of origin. When using this technique on diseased and cancerous tissues, we can use the tumor organoids as ‘avatars’ of patients, which enables us to study individual drug responses.

Of adult tumors, tumor organoid biobanks of different cancer types have already been made and are available for researchers to obtain. In the last five years, a lot of progress has been made within the Máxima Center to also generate tumor organoid models for pediatric cancers. These pediatric tumor organoid models have successfully been developed in several different research groups in the Máxima Center, and include:

  • Wilms tumors
  • Ewing sarcomas
  • Neuroblastomas
  • Diffuse midline gliomas
  • Malignant rhabdoid tumors
  • Craniopharyngiomas
  • Hepatoblastomas
  • Ependymomas
  • Rhabdomyosarcomas.

Various research groups at the Máxima Center are already working with organoids, for example for research into targeted therapies and for high-throughput drug screening. By making pediatric tumor organoid models available, the CMOB also makes new fundamental research into childhood cancer possible, including tumor development and growth, and finding targets for new treatments.

Services and support

The CMOB will eventually give researchers, from both within and outside of the Máxima Center, access to generated tumor organoid models for which culture protocols have already been generated. The tumor organoid models are cultured under standardized conditions, and characterized using immunohistochemistry, RNA sequencing, whole genome sequencing, and DNA methylation profiling. Each organoid line that is requested will be issued together with the tumor-specific SOP, as well as a line-specific tumor organoid passport.

A study on the ethics of pediatric tumor organoid biobanking has started and will be used to develop a policy on including and storing patient-derived organoids, and sharing them outside of the Máxima Center. This will be done in collaboration with the Julius Center at UMC Utrecht, the Vereniging Kinderkanker Nederland (Dutch National Childhood Cancer Association) and the Máxima Center’s Client Council.

‘We hope that this will accelerate the development of new therapies against childhood cancer.’ Dr. Karin Sanders coordinator of the Central Máxima Organoid Biobank (CMOB)
Dr. Karin Sanders

Dr. Karin Sanders, coordinator of the CMOB and acting group leader of the Clevers group e.t.: ‘Various research groups at the Máxima Center are already working with pediatric tumor organoids. They often grow them from tumor tissue from children who have been treated at the Máxima Center, provided parents or child have given their approval. We expect that the fully characterized CMOB tumor organoid lines, with clear culturing instructions, will greatly facilitate and increase the research that can be done in pediatric cancer worldwide. We hope that this will accelerate the development of new therapies against childhood cancer.’


This facility is embedded in the Clevers e.t. research group. The project is financed by KiKa and by the National Growth Fund of the Dutch government, as part of Oncode Accelerator. Within Oncode Accelerator, the CMOB is part of the Organoid Technology Platform, which is led by Dr. Jarno Drost.

E-mail: k.sanders@prinsesmaximacentrum.nl