Deciphering Molecular Biology
Last update on: 04/09/2009
Over the last years, the interest of scientists is particularly focussed on tumour genetics and biology.
Deciphering biological characteristics allows an expert to differentiate between tumour entities, which have to be treated more intensively and that which require a less aggressive treatment.
This results in a better outcome both for patients whose cancer illness is difficult to treat and for patients whose cancer illness is easier to gain control of and which is associated with a less aggressive treatment with less severe side effects.
As such, e.g. leukemia cells have very different mutations. Knowledge of these genetic characteristics allows for conclusions regarding the course of the illness and influences the type of treatment, but also the outcome.
Today the discovery of tumour-specific changes such as in the case of the Ewing's sarcoma (malignant bone tumour, primarily during childhood) is regarded around the world as the standard criterion of a diagnosis and carries hope for focussed treatments.
The St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute has done a lot of pioneering work with respect to neuroblastomas. They are among the embryonic tumours - this includes neuroblastoma, nephroblastoma, and hepatoblastoma and the very seldom germ cell tumours - and occur in early childhood and almost never occur with adults.
Benefit of the characterisation of neuroblastoma:
in the area of
of neuroblastomas, new findings have been obtained with the
- assessing the aggressiveness with the help of molecular genetics
- adjusting the intensity of the treatment to the needs of the patient
"As a result, one can decide whether a less intense treatment with fewer side effects is sufficient or whether a more intense therapy is required."
Michael Dworzak, MD
Head physician at the St. Anna Children’s Hospital
Study group leader at the St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute
and partner of “Overcoming Cancer with research”