Cookie Settings

We use cookies to optimize our website. These include cookies that are necessary for the operation of the site, as well as those that are only used for anonymous statistic. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Further information can be found in our data privacy protection .


These cookies are necessary to run the core functionalities of this website and cannot be disabled.

Name Webedition CMS
Purpose This cookie is required by the CMS (Content Management System) Webedition for the system to function correctly. Typically, this cookie is deleted when the browser is closed.
Name econda
Purpose Session cookie emos_jcsid for the web analysis software econda. This runs in the “anonymized measurement” mode. There is no personal reference. As soon as the user leaves the site, tracking is ended and all data in the browser are automatically deleted.

These cookies help us understand how visitors interact with our website by collecting and analyzing information anonymously. Depending on the tool, one or more cookies are set by the provider.

Name econda
Purpose Statistics
External media

Content from external media platforms is blocked by default. If cookies from external media are accepted, access to this content no longer requires manual consent.

Name YouTube
Purpose Show YouTube content
Name Twitter
Purpose activate Twitter Feeds

Ependymoma Awareness Day celebrating breakthroughs in cooperative ependymoma research

No. 16c | 10/04/2014

Ependymoma is a rare but aggressive brain tumor that occurs in both children and adults. Only large international collaborative efforts such as the Cooperative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) and the Ependymoma Consensus Conference Series enable researchers and clinicians worldwide to decipher the biology, design innovative clinical trials, and ultimately improve survival of patients suffering from this devastating disease. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center have significantly contributed to the latest breakthroughs in ependymoma research.


Patients, clinicians and researchers celebrate this year´s Ependymoma Awareness Day on April 10, 2014, a year in which we have witnessed some major breakthroughs in ependymoma research that will hopefully lay the ground for novel treatment approaches in the near future.

At any age Ependymoma can arise in different compartments of the central nervous system (CNS) including the spine, the cerebellum, and the cortex. These tumors comprise a collection of biologically distinct entities that cannot be reliably distinguished by conventional pathology analysis. It is very likely that only when we account for these different biological entities in clinical trials we will be able to design appropriate treatments for all patients.

A few years ago, groups from both North America and Europe established a unique collaboration that has enabled scientific breakthroughs in this rare disease.This collaboration includes the sharing of tumor samples to analyze and discuss novel biological insights. The Cooperative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) under the leadership of Dr. Mark Gilbert (MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA) as well as the Ependymoma Consensus Conference Series jointly organized by Dr. Michael Taylor (Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada), Richard Gilbertson (St. Jude Children´s Research Hospital, Memphis, USA), and Stefan Pfister (German Cancer Research Center and University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany) are two prominent examples for such world-wide collaborative networks in ependymoma.

Using this infrastructure research groups on both sides of the Atlantic were recently able to report significant breakthroughs in our understanding of ependymomas occurring both in the cortex and in the cerebellum.

Richard Gilbertson and David Ellison at St. Jude´s Children´s Research Hospital were able to identify a highly recurrent fusion gene in the vast majority of cortical ependymomas. This discovery is leading to the development of new drugs that target this tumor-specific mutation and do not hurt healthy cells.

In cerebellar ependymoma, groups from Toronto (Michael Taylor), Houston (Ken Aldape) and Heidelberg (Andrey Korshunov, Hendrik Witt and Stefan Pfister) have identified two biologically very distinct disease variants, which typically occur in different ages, and are also associated with different outcome. Furthermore, the researchers could demonstrate that the subtype that appears to behave more aggressive seems to be driven by aberrations in the epigenetic code, information in cells that is transmitted to daughter cells outside of the DNA code. Similar as for cortical ependymomas, this again for the first time offers the possibility for the identification of drugs that directly target this “Achilles’ Heel” of aggressive ependymomas in the cerebellum.

In summary, patients, clinicians and researchers collectively fighting against Ependymoma have good reasons to hope for new therapeutic options in the near future. The Ependymoma Awareness Day intends to sensitize a larger public for the need of more attention for this rare, but still devastating disease.

The Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Arts of Baden Württemberg and the German Cancer Research Center Heidelberg strongly support this initiative.

With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


Subscribe to our RSS-Feed.

to top
powered by webEdition CMS