Research Focus

The aim of the junior research group is to decipher the decisive causes for the development of malignant brain tumors in order to develop new therapeutic approaches.

We focus on tumor entities that occur predominantly in childhood and adolescence (e.g. embryonal tumors with multilayered rosettes (ETMRs), atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RT), medulloblastomas and malignant gliomas). These tumors are usually very aggressive and affected patients have a very poor prognosis despite multimodal therapy.

To understand which mechanisms drive tumorigenesis and tumor growth, we work with preclinical model systems (e.g. cell cultures) and use modern omic analyses to characterize tumors globally at the molecular level (e.g. DNA methylomics, RNA transcriptomics, proteomics). One focus is on the global analysis of protein profiles (proteomics).

Figure 1

One protein of particular interest to us in the context of tumorigenesis is the stem and progenitor cell marker LIN28A, which is highly expressed in ETMRs, atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RTs), as well as germ cell tumors and gliomas. Here, the function of this protein is being investigated using various in vitro and in vivo systems during brain development and in tumor models.

Figure 2

Finally, we are also trying to improve the diagnosis and classification of brain tumors and are working with bioinformatics tools that can make histological diagnostics more efficient and accurate (keywords: digital pathology and machine learning).

Figure 3