Disease phenotype, including clinical outcome, is driven by underlying biological mechanisms. Translating disease biology into new diagnostic applications holds great promise for improving outcome for patients. The TGO focuses on translational research in the field of gastrointestinal cancer; especially biomarker development for early detection of colorectal cancer, as well as definition of molecular intermediate endpoints for screening. It involves DNA-, RNA- and protein-based tumor profiling using -omics techniques, in order to stratify patient groups and arrive at individually tailored therapies, as well as for biomarker development to improve colorectal cancer screening. In addition, we are involved in several national and international research infrastructure programs.
Patients can be cured from colorectal cancer (CRC) when the tumor is detected and removed in an early stage. CRC as a disease lends itself perfectly for screening since it has a high prevalence and it has a well-defined precursor lesion (adenoma) with a long dwell time, providing an excellent window of opportunity for a variety of treatment options. Current immunochemical fecal occult blood test (FIT) based screening tests can reduce CRC mortality, but still approximately 30% of carcinomas and 70% of pre-malignant lesions remain undetected. Our main objectives in this research line are to unravel the biology of adenoma to carcinoma progression, and identify and clinically validate new biomarker based tests.
Cancer is a heterogeneous disease caused by genomic alterations that affect tumor biology and clinical behavior. Therefore, a better understanding of disease biology can help us in determining who to treat and how to treat. By DNA-, RNA- and protein-profiling of tumor tissue it becomes feasible to stratify patients according to their molecular tumor profile, and to optimize treatment for individual patients. Next to tissue samples, also the minute amounts of tumor material in so called liquid biopsies, which can be obtained more easily than tissue samples, are amenable to these assays.