Quest to target one of the crucial signaling pathways in cancer goes on
The lab of Madelon Maurice, Ph.D. in the Netherlands is amongst the leading labs studying the role of Wnt signaling in cancer. A promising target for future cancer therapeutics?
Madelon Maurice, professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and a member of the national Oncode Institute for Cancer Research
Predicting relevant mutations
Modulating Wnt signaling responses in stem cells and cancer
Adopting pioneering organoid technology
The lab is applying organoid technology, a breakthrough 3D culture technology to study mini organs in a dish. “We can now investigate the mechanisms of cell-to-cell communication in complex tissues because all cell types of the original tissue are present in these 3D cultures. We can compare diseased tissue with healthy tissue. We can study the response of certain medications. And, importantly, we can also model disease by inserting mutations that are important for cancer development using CRISPR-CAS9 technology. For instance, we can now correct mutations in patient-derived material and show which of the mutations that accumulated in a cancer cell are actually important.”
The Utrecht region in the Netherlands is at the forefront in applications of organoid technology that was pioneered by Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, group Leader at the Hubrecht Institute and Professor of Molecular Genetics at Utrecht University. The generation of patient-derived ‘living’ organoid biobanks now holds great promise to revolutionize healthcare and transform precision medicine. “For me, as a molecular cell biologist, it is very exciting to now be able to analyse and understand such complex tissues in detail. The number of applications of organoids in basic and translational research is rapidly expanding. I am convinced that these approaches will revolutionize the therapy of many severe diseases.”