The Heidelberg Center for Personalized Oncology


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Christof von Kalle1
1National Center of Tumor Diseases, Heidelberg and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Germany

Abstract

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has transformed genomic research by entering an era in which the cost of clinical whole-genome and targeted sequencing tests is no longer prohibitive to their application. New opportunities for translating high-throughput functional genomics into clinical practices have been afforded. By combining forces between genomics, systems biology and translation, the German Cancer Research Center has begun to form an internationally leading center for personalised oncology. The mid- to long-term goal of this center is to develop a program for personalised oncology that will readily translate latest research and technologies from the field of functional genomics and systems biology into clinical practice. Clinical use of NGS technologies will enable the identification of causative mutations for rare genetic disorders through whole-genome or targeted genome resequencing, rapid pathogen screening and cancer diagnosis along with the identification of appropriate therapy. We have set up a technology platform that integrates the next-generation sequencing platform for the analysis of whole genomes, methylomes and transcriptomes with a bioinformatics platform that hosts Germany's largest data facility in life sciences together with the genome data analysis group. The genomic sequencing oriented platforms will be complemented by a mass spectrometry-based proteomics platform. For detailed mechanistic studies of deregulated pathways in vivo we will establish a next-generation microscopy imaging platform. As a principal portal of entry for all oncology patients into the Heidelberg University Medical School, NCT provides optimal interdisciplinary oncology and allows the rapid transfer of scientific knowledge into clinical applications. Routine clinical use of NGS technologies is appealing, but mandates high accuracy, simple assays, flexible throughput, short run times and most importantly, easy data analysis as well as interpretation; all features we are working on to optimise, to reach the NCT Precision Oncology Program (NCT-POP) ultimate goal of providing comprehensive high-throughput molecular analysis for every patient at the center until 2015.