Center for Neuropathology

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Preclinical Models of Pediatric Neurooncology

Head: Dr. med. Alexander Beck

Malignant brain tumors are the most frequent cause of death in childhood in Germany. While other types of cancer can be treated or even cured, childhood brain tumors are still associated with an exceptionally poor prognosis and low survival rates.

The goal of our research group is to identify new therapeutic options for patients with previously incurable brain tumours. To this end, we are developing new biotechnologies based on human pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and primary brain tumor cells. All of our work is done on human cells with the aim to rapidly translate our results into clinical practice. Our current focus is on drug testing in the context of individualized therapeutic approaches for children with brain tumors. For this purpose, we asses the effectiveness of the drugs on tumor cells, their toxicity to normal cells and the blood-brain barrier permeabilty of the test copounds.

The latest technologies are used in the implementation of our projects. Our research group utilizes a 3D bio-printer with which complex tissues can be created from several cell types. In addition, we make use of and enhance technologies of stem cell biology. Thus, in addition to individual cell types, such as nerve cells, endothelial cells and glial cells, we can also create entire organ systems, such as miniature brains (so-called cerebral organoids). The co-cultivation of these cell types and tissues with brain tumor cells enables unprecedented complexity and predictive power of our preclinical models.