In collaboration with Ilse Timmerman and Carlijn Voermans (Sanquin, Amsterdam)
In my project we are studying the bone marrow as a metastatic niche in neuroblastoma. This type of cancer affects 30-40 children in the Netherlands per year and for high-risk patients the survival chance is below 40%. Often the tumor comes back after being considered ‘gone’, and frequently this happens in the bone marrow. We investigate the interactions and crosstalk of the tumor cells with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in the bone marrow, which are believed to contribute to tumor proliferation, survival and development of therapy resistance. By characterizing MSCs and tumor cells with single-cell RNA sequencing and co-culturing those 2 cell types in vitro, we hope to find out how they communicate and how this ‘life-line’ of the tumor can become a new therapeutic target. This hopefully leads to a reduction of relapse rates in neuroblastoma in the future.