Primary tumors of the Central Nervous System (CNS) are relatively rare, but many of these tumors (esp. glial neoplasms) are so far incurable and carry a high disease burden (morbidity, mortality). These tumours thus represent a dreadful example of an 'unmet clinical need'. Recently, CNS tumors were designated as one of the five 'top-priority cancer types' in the Oncology Institute of the VUmc. Further elucidation of the molecular background of these neoplasms will contribute to the identification of targets for improving therapeutic efficacy in patients carrying these tumors. To contribute to this goal, the Neuro-oncology Research Group (NRG) was established in the VUmc about a four years ago by the Dept. of Neurosurgery (Prof. dr. W.P. Vandertop; co-directors of the NRG at present Dr. T Würdinger/Dr. D. Noske). Soon after, different other disciplines of the VUmc started to structurally participate in the NRG (esp. Pediatric Oncology, Medical Oncology, Neurology). In Nov. 2010 Prof. dr. P. Wesseling was appointed at the Dept. of Pathology of the VUmc as neuropathologist with special focus on neuro-oncology, also with the purpose to act as a key member of the NRG. The research of NRG has a broad scope, important focus points being the identification of novel molecules that can be used as markers/targets for the development of new therapeutic approaches, the development of relevant preclinical models for different types of (esp. glial and/or pediatric) tumors, the development of innovative (imaging-)approaches for detection and monitoring tumor growth. In recent years, the NRG has been very successful in obtaining funding for performing the research that was envisioned to be necessary to make progress in the area of diagnosis and treatment of tumors of the CNS.
The research of the Neuro-oncological Research Group (NRG) has a broad scope. Several important focus points in the research on tumors of the CNS are the identification of novel molecules that can be used as markers/targets for the development of new therapeutic approaches, the development of relevant preclinical models for different types of (esp. glial and/or pediatric) tumors, the development of innovative (imaging) approaches for detection and monitoring tumor growth and, last but not least, the translation of the results obtained in the preclinical phase into the clinic.
Pieter Wesseling MD PhD - program leader