The 13th Expert Meeting for Pediatric Oncology and Hematology on „Molecular Targeted Therapies for Childhood Cancers“ that was held 28th – 30th January 2010at Schloss Reisenburg near Ulm (Germany) brought together international experts to discuss novel developments and current challenges in the field of innovative cancer therapeutics for childhood cancers.
In recent years, molecular profiling and the elucidation of signal transduction pathways resulted in the identification of multiple novel targets for innovative therapeutic concepts. Molecular targeted therapies offer the advantage to specifically address oncogenic lesions or aberrant signaling events that drive tumorigenesis and confer treatment resistance. In addition, such therapies are supposed to act in a more selective fashion by predominately affecting malignant versus non-malignant cells. A variety of targets have already been therapeutically exploited, for example growth factor receptors, epigenetic events or apoptosis and cell cycle regulators. An important aspect to garantee the success of molecular targeted therapies in the future will be to develop biomarkers in order to select appropriate patients to enrich for a responsive population. Eventually, molecular tumor profiling prior to therapeutic interventions may provide the opportunity to offer the most suitable treatment options that are precisely tailored to the specific tumor aberrations of an individual patient, thus ensuring personalized medicine. This approach is expected to yield more effective yet less toxic treatment regimens for children suffering from cancer.
The meeting was kindly supported by the Kind-Philipp-Stiftung für Leukämieforschung.