• Stem cell pathways in cancer

    Personalised medicine is a move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the treatment and care of patients with a particular condition, to one which uses new approaches to better manage patients’ health and targets therapies to achieve the best outcomes in the management of a patient’s disease or predisposition to disease” (taken from NHS.uk). With the rapid improvements in accurateness of molecular diagnostics, progress in developing adequately tailored treatments is highly needed.
    In over 10 years of academic research I have contributed to the understanding of molecular regulators of stem cell properties in brain cancer, a field of research with significant impact on our approach in personalized anti-cancer therapy. By using glioblastoma (GBM), the most common malignant brain tumor and one of the most lethal cancers, as a model disease my research was amongst the earliest discoveries that the stem cell signaling pathway Wingless/WNT contributes to the malignant behavior of the disease. Up till now, many facets of how and through what mechanisms, WNT promotes GBM malignancy have been identified. Those stem cell regulator- research campaigns also added to the establishment of cancer-subtype specific biomarkers suitable for disease stratification as a fundament that impacts our approaches to find novel therapeutic treatment options. Various efforts to develop pharmacological WNT blockers are active with promising clinical trials underway. Our follow-up studies identified several molecular targets of WNT in GBM with that can a) reduce resistance to standard of care treatment, b) eradicate cancer stem cells and c) help to detect tumor occurrence by minimal invasive approaches such as metabolic imaging.
    The work has been supported by German Cancer Aid/ Deutsche Krebshilfe and is currently supported by Brigitte und Dr. Konstanze Wegener Foundation.

    Starting from winter semester 2019/2020 as part of the (Science Track Elective Course Curriculum in the Model Program Degree of Medicine at the Heinrich-Heine University of Duesseldorf, http://www.medizin.hhu.de/studium-und-lehre/studiengaenge/medizin/wahlfach-datenbank.html, Dr. Kahlert is discussing current breakthrough discoveries on Personalized Medicine. Special emphasize on applicability of the finding of the discussed papers for clinical practice is drawn.