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Looijenga group

Investigation of the pathogenesis of the various types of human germ cell tumors with the goal to perform optimal (early) diagnosis and treatment, including identification and application of (molecular) biomarkers. This will result in the most effective treatment with limited side effects, both on the short and long term.

PI: Prof.dr. Leendert Looijenga
Phone +31 (0) 88 972 5211

Germ Cell Tumors (GCT) are considered to be highly heterogeneous and complex, both regarding origin, histological constitution as well as clinical behavior. Investigations on normal developmental processes related to germ cell and gonadal formation and maturation combined with integrated and omics-based studies on germ cell tumors, stimulated novel and clinically relevant insights. This resulted in a modified classification system, currently recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization, 2016), including application of diagnostic tools. Current studies will further elucidate the mechanism(s) responsible for their origin and clinical behavior, including their overall sensitivity to systematic treatment and the exceptional resistance. This will allow optimal treatment of the individual patient with minimal (long term) side effects.

"Understanding developmental biological processes amplify identification of the clinically relevant pathogenetic changes in human germ cell tumors." Prof.dr. Leendert Looijenga - PI

Informative liquid biopsy biomarkers are highly instructive for the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with a germ cell tumor. Currently the proteins AFP and hCG and to a lesser extend LDH are applied and found to be relevant in a clinical setting. However, they have significant limitations due to false negative and positive findings. We demonstrated that a defined (embryonic) set of small noncoding RNA (i.e., microRNAs) are highly informative as serum/plasma and cerebrospinal fluid molecular biomarker for malignant germ cell tumors. In addition, these miRNAs are informative to detect undifferentiated (and potentially malignant) elements in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (IPSC) and Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) derivatives, potentially used for regenerative medicine. Current studies are performed to clinically implement the embryonic miRNA as molecular biomarkers for the optimal diagnosis and treatment of patients with germ cell tumors. In addition, it is investigated whether a similar approach will also be applicable for other cancer types as well.    

 

Poster Testicular Cancer (related to paper Cheng et al. Nat Rev Dis Primers 2018).
Poster Testicular Cancer (related to paper Cheng et al. Nat Rev Dis Primers 2018). 

Looijenga group