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DKTK School of Oncology Tech Talk : “Advancing liquid biopsies for monitoring and personalized tumor patient treatment”

In the DKTK School of Oncology's first Tech Talk of 2024 on March 12, Dr. Christof Winter and PD Hedwig Deubzer discussed the benefits of Liquid Biopsies in pediatric and adult cancers.

© Dr. Dr. Christof Winter/PD Hedwig Deubzer

Liquid Biopsies offer a significant advantage as they provide a non-invasive method to gain insights into the disease without the need for tumor biopsies. This is particularly crucial for tumors that are inaccessible for biopsy procedures. Blood serves as a common source for Liquid Biopsies, wherein circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) can be analyzed for genetic alterations, aiding clinicians in identifying patients who are most likely to benefit from molecular targeted treatment.

Under the DKTK joint Funding Project EXLIQUID, experts from all DKTK partner sites collaborate to tackle the challenges of integrating Liquid Biopsies into clinical practice. Specifically, EXLIQUID aims to establish a DKTK multicenter repository of high-quality Liquid Biopsies samples from patients with advanced solid cancers who undergo comprehensive tumor profiling in molecular tumor boards. Furthermore, it seeks to establish the value of cell-free DNA-based kinetics analysis of tumor-specific variants for early prediction of treatment failure, and to assess the additional potential of cell-free DNA-based epigenomic markers for diagnosis and sub-classification.

Non-invasive methods hold particular importance for childhood cancer patients. Therefore, Hedwig Deubzer’s lab is dedicated to expediting the adoption of Liquid Biopsies approaches in clinical settings and overcoming current obstacles in therapy response assessment, minimal residual disease monitoring (MRD), and actionable target identification. Her research primarily focuses on Neuroblastoma, the most common tumor diagnosed in the first year of life.

About the speakers:
Dr. Dr. Christof Winter is one of the coordinators of the DKTK Joint Funding project EXLIQUID. He is a physician and bioinformatician and head of the working group "Liquid Profiling and Bioinformatics" at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), DKTK partner site Munich. He develops blood tests that help to predict whether a cancer therapy will be successful or not.

PD Hedwig Deubzer is a specialized physician for pediatric oncology and hematology and aims to research liquid biopsy for the diagnosis of tumors in children and adolescents as a clinician scientist. She works at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at the DKTK partner site Berlin.