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Molecular characterization of each tumor

The tumor of every child treated at the Princess Máxima Center is molecularly characterized. This is the result of intensive collaboration between pediatric oncologists, researchers and the team of the Laboratory for Childhood Cancer Pathology. This makes the diagnosis of a child with cancer more reliable and precise.

With molecular characterization, the genes that are active in the tumor cell are analyzed and the abnormalities and errors of the tumor genes through RNA/DNA sequencing. This is part of standard-of-care to determine a precise diagnosis recently. This information is subsequently discussed by a team of researchers and physicians to identify targets for new drugs. This multidisciplinary meeting, the so-called tumor board, takes place weekly is the meeting where the best treatment is determined for each child.


Bas Tops, head of the Laboratory for Childhood Cancer Pathology: 'We have been working towards making molecular characterization a standard diagnostic procedure since the Máxima Center was opened in 2018. This provides important information about the tumor. We are the first laboratory where molecular characterization of every tumor is part of routine diagnostics.' The pediatric oncologist for early phase drugs, Natasha van Eijkelenburg, adds: 'Good diagnostics are essential to work on targeted therapy, so-called precision medicine. We put a lot of energy into making new drugs available in our center.'

Precision medicine

Tumor cells are increasingly being tested for the efficacy of new and known drugs. And the results are reported to the treating physicians. Max van Noesel, pediatric oncologist solid tumors, explains: 'Many people in our center are already working on this ‘drug testing’, but it still takes too much time before a result is known, and is therefore not yet applicable in patient care. We are working to speed up this process, and complete the targeted therapy pipeline for children with cancer. With molecular profiling for each tumor, we have already taken an important step forward, thanks to the collaboration between research and care.'