Stem cells are essential for maintaining regenerative tissues and are critical components of repair in response to tissue injury and infection. Moreover, genetic alterations of stem cells and their progeny can lead to the generation of leukemic and solid cancer stem cells (LSCs & CSCs) that drive tumorigenesis and metastasis in hierarchically organized cancer entities (see also Cancer Stem Cell and Metastasis group). Due to their remarkable resistance to chemotherapy, LSCs are responsible for tumor re-occurrence and therapy resistance.
We perform fundamental and translational cancer research using state-of-the-art technologies, including omics analysis (epigenome, methylome, transcriptome, proteome), gene editing, single cell technologies and advanced microscopy in vitro and in vivo. We also use genetically engineered mouse models, primary clinical samples, patient derived xenografts and primary cells and organoids derived from these to mechanistically identify the basis of self-renewal and leukemia stem cell function. For leukemias we have the goal to develop innovative strategies to detect and target leukemic stem cells in primary disease as well as in minimal residual disease and relapse.