Dr. Jarno Drost, who is also an Oncode Investigator, studies kidney and rhabdoid tumors in children. Using mini-tumors grown in the lab, he maps out how these cancers develop and why in some cases they can spread or become insensitive to the treatment. He also uses these mini tumors to test possible new drugs. Drost aims to develop new treatments for childhood tumors that are still difficult to treat.
Mistakes in regulation
Drost plans to use the funds from the Vidi grant to look at the role of so-called epigenetic changes in the development of cancer. These changes occur not in the genes in the DNA themselves, but in the regulation and control of those genes.
‘There are a number of aggressive childhood tumors where most of the genes look normal, but there seems to be something wrong with the epigenetic ‘on and off switches’ in the DNA,’ says Drost. ‘We believe that these epigenetic changes play a role in tumor growth and spread.’
'The Vidi grant gives us the opportunity to further explore these epigenetic processes,' says Drost. With the prestigious Vidi grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO), he will receive €800,000 in research funding. Drost: 'This is not only a very welcome appreciation for the research that we have worked so hard on in the past few years, but also enables us to further develop it and start new lines of research.'