Center for Medical Genetics Center for Medical Genetics

Paediatric Oncogenomics

  • Research focus
  • Team members
  • Read more

Challenges in childhood cancer research

Treatment of cancer is one of the major challenges in contemporary biomedical research. Ever since Farber pioneered chemotherapy for treatment of children's leukemia to the current optimized and carefully tailored protocols for treatment of cancer in children, many further successes have been achieved. However, important challenges are still remaining.

For some childhood cancer entities survival rates are still relatively low such as neuroblastoma. Also, a subset of children with leukemia showing initial good response to treatment relapse after some time and thus require novel treatment strategies to ensure long term cure. Finally, the search for novel effective but less toxic drugs is warranted as current intensive multimodal treatment results in both short and long term side effects including increased risk for secondary malignancies.

Towards novel combination molecular therapies.

Dedicated website

More information at Speleman Lab

Contact person

Principal investigator

Postdoctoral researchers


Our lab aims to exploit novel insights in pediatric cancer genomes for the design of novel and more effective patient tailored therapies. To this end, we make combined use of high throughput genomic technologies, cellular model systems, animal models and bioinformatics to gain insights into the role of genes and signalling networks in initiation and development of cancer as well as processes leading to treatment resistance, as the latter is one of the main reasons why patients ultimately die of the disease.

General statement

Current cancer research is at an important cross road. Cancer genomes are being decoded making use of the new whole genome sequencing technologies and new drugs are being discovered and tailored for molecular targeting of cancer cells. As such, a new form of medicine, so-called precision medicine is emerging. In the future, more and more cancers will be treated based on their intrinsic molecular vulnerabilities, rather than based on their morphological and clinical entity. One of the major advantages of such therapy is that cancer cells are specifically attacked at their vulnerable molecular nodes thus avoiding unwanted side effects in normal tissues. One example of such new targeted therapies is imatinib of Gleevec which is used to treat different cancer entities such as chronic myeloid leukemia and gastro-intestinal tumors based on their sensitivity for this specific kinase inhibitor. However, in many instances such single compound treatment also fails due to acquired resistance of tumor cells to such drugs thus underlining the need to design combination therapy using multiple drugs for simultaneous targeting of multiple cancer promoting molecular defects.


Research topics I : Neuroblastoma
  • ALK signaling
  • tumor initiating (epi-) genetic regulatory networks
  • combination therapy
  • novel zebrafish neuroblastoma models
  • the molecular basis of cooperative 17q gain
Research topics I : Leukemia
  • Noncoding RNAs in T-cell acute leukemia
  • PHF6 in T-cell acute leukemia

Last updated: 24 November 2016 - 11:56
Copyright 2023 Center for Medical Genetics, Gent.