Nowadays, state-of-the-art molecular analysis methods make it possible to precisely characterise certain changes in the genetic material or other components of cancer cells. This knowledge can often be used to attack the tumor at exactly this point. This allows to classify patients into increasingly well-defined groups (stratification), which can receive a very specific therapy.
NCT scientists are looking into combining genetic analyses with other methods of molecular characterisation. For example, Dresden scientists in the new NCT/UCC building, are testing patient cells, mini-tumors grown from patient cells and other models to understand how the individual tumor reacts to different types of medication. In combination with a complete genetic analysis of the tumor as part of the NCT/DKTK MASTER programme, the aim is to identify tailored treatment options. Currently, scientists are investigating whether testing a large number of possible drugs on the patient's own cancer cells will actually benefit the patients. Provided this is proven in sufficiently large numbers, the tests in the laboratory could have a direct influence on therapy decisions in the future.
An important basis for this form of innovative tumor characterisation is a central unit located in the new building, the so-called Preclinical Model Unit. It bundles knowledge on how various tumor cells can be cultivated in the long term and grown into mini-tumors. This requires well-defined experimental procedures, some of which the scientists are developing from scratch.
Patients can find out about the possibilities of molecular diagnostics in a specialised consultation for personalised oncology at the NCT/UCC.