Brain tumors are the primary cause of cancer mortality in children. Even if a cure is possible, young patients often suffer tremendously from the stressful treatment which can be harmful to the developing brain. Therefore, there is an urgent need for target-oriented, gentle treatment methods. The most important childhood brain tumors are medulloblastoma, which is diagnosed in approximately one hundred young patients each year in Germany, and pylocytic astrocytoma, which is diagnosed in about 200 children each year. "Regarding these two conditions, in particular, we have done good preliminary work and have already compiled comprehensive tumor sample collections," explains Professor Peter Lichter, coordinator of the German ICGC network.
The German ICGC research network will analyze 300 tumor samples of each cancer type. In addition, researchers will analyze the same number of healthy samples obtained from the same patients so as to be able to identify cancer-specific changes. In the more common adult cancers, ICGC regulations even require the investigation of 500 samples of each type of cancer.
The decisive factor for the start of the International Cancer Genome Consortium were U.S. studies of colorectal cancer and breast cancer which showed that in each individual tumor considerably more mutations are crucial for carcinogenesis than scientists had previously assumed. Furthermore, individual tumors of one and the same type of cancer have substantially different mutation profiles. This may lead to totally new treatment approaches in each individual case; in some cases, a cocktail of several targeted drugs might also improve the chances of cure.
Distributed Tasks: Collecting, Sequencing, Analyzing
The various tasks of the German ICGC network are headed by internationally acclaimed experts. The common goal is a very comprehensive molecular analysis of the tumors. Thus, besides targets for new therapies, scientists are a
|Contact: Dr. Sibylle Kohlstaedt|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres