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Lively exchange: DKFZ/NCT/DKTK HARPOON Workshop

The fourth DKFZ/NCT/DKTK HARPOON workshop took place in Heidelberg on November 23 and 24 with lively participation of well over 100 experts in attendance. HARPOON stands for HArmonisation of Reporting in PrecisiOn ONcology and was jointly organised this year by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the National Center for Tumour Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg and the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK).

Participants of the HARPOON Workshop on November 23rd/24th in Heidelberg © Marius Stark

The event was aimed at all those involved in precision oncology, i.e. bioinformaticians, data scientists, molecular biologists, pathologists, clinicians and clinical/medical study directors.

After three very successful online events, participants wanted to meet in person this year, creating space for direct dialogue and networking. The organisers translated this request into a face-to-face format with presentations on pioneering activities in precision oncology and new technologies as well as plenty of opportunities for discussion.

Precision oncology focuses on tailoring cancer treatments to individual patients based on the biological characteristics of their tumour. Comprehensive data sets obtained through interdisciplinary collaboration, which combine information from different areas such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, are playing an increasingly important role here. By integrating data, researchers gain a holistic picture of the interactions and relationships within a tumour and its environment and can thus identify potential therapeutic targets, support the development of personalised treatment approaches for cancer patients and further investigate the mechanisms that may be responsible for tumour growth, metastasis and resistance to therapy. Precision oncology is therefore an important link between applied preclinical research and early clinical trials.

The HARPOON topics therefore ranged from data sharing, new developments in precision oncology and clinically driven basic research to clinical trials based on translational research. Stefan Fröhling, Managing Director at the NCT Heidelberg and Head of the Department of Translational Medical Oncology at the DKFZ, says: "With top-class presentations, we were able to underline the central role of multidimensional tumour characterisation as a driver of innovative clinical trials and scientific projects in Germany and beyond."

In his keynote lecture, Edwin Cuppen from the Hartwig Medical Foundation in Amsterdam reported on how he and his team were able to implement the broadest molecular diagnostics across the board and thus significantly improve preclinical and clinical research as well as the care of cancer patients in the Netherlands.

Lively discussions complemented the lecture programme, and the personal and professional exchange enabled the participants to identify a number of concrete starting points for cooperation. The networking of the DKTK and the extended NCT, which aims to rapidly transfer new findings from cancer research into clinical application, also benefited from this in particular.

Keynote Lecture: Edwin Cuppen, Hartwig Medical Foundation, Amsterdam © Marius Stark
Session "New Developments in Precision Oncology": Angelika Riemer, DKFZ Heidelberg © Marius Stark


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