Welcome to the website of the Pediatric Neurooncology Center Heidelberg!
This is a joint web portal of the Divisions of Pediatric Neurooncology and Molecular Genetics at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) Heidelberg, the Clinical Cooperation Units for Neuropathology and Pediatric Oncology between the DKFZ and Heidelberg University Hospital, and the Center for Individualized Pediatric Oncology (ZIPO) and Brain Tumors at the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology (Center for Child and Adolescent Medicine in Heidelberg) united in their fight against childhood brain tumors.
Based on a technological revolution in detection methods such as next-generation sequencing and epigenome analysis, it has in recent years become possible to decipher the entire genetic and epigenetic code of a given tumor within few days. Applying these new technologies to primary brain tumor samples, we have witnessed extraordinary successes in understanding the biology of various different childhood brain tumors including medulloblastoma, low-grade astrocytoma, ependymoma, glioblastoma, and other less common entities. A major driving force for these discoveries was the ICGCPedBrain project, a unique joint funding project between the Deutsche Krebshilfe and the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) coordinated at the DKFZ.
During this period, it has become quite evident that many of the important distinctions between different brain tumors cannot be made just by subjecting tumors to microscopic analysis after surgical excision. Similar as for other tumor entities, e.g., leukemias, for which it is of course much easier to obtain tumor material, even repeatedly throughout the course of the disease, novel molecular tests are necessary to complement conventional histopathological analysis in order to enable the most accurate diagnosis. We are convinced that spending about 1-2% of the total budget that is overall required for the treatment of a patient with a malignant brain tumor to establish an accurate diagnosis is more than justified and will yield in better treatment stratification, i.e., tailoring the appropriate treatment intensity to each patient, and ultimately higher cure rates.