Every third Friday of the month, researchers affiliated with Cancer Center Amsterdam (CCA) gather for the ‘CCAll’ lectures. During these hybrid online and in-person meetings, a selected principal investigator (PI) and research team present an overview of their scientific interests and experimental data. As such, CCAll meetings are specifically suited to facilitate connections among CCA scientists and foster collaborations within our institute. At the most recent CCAll meeting, Dr. Gerben Vader, PI at the Department of Human Genetics, section Oncogenetics, explained the group’s focus on genes operating during the special cell division that enables sexual reproduction (meiosis) and their unexplained functions in cancer.

Vader Research Team: Work and Approach

When thinking about the molecules and mechanisms behind cancer development and therapy, not many people will immediately think of the unique processes that enable sexual reproduction. The Vader group is thinking about this - at first glance surprising - link daily. It has been known for decades that many proteins that are uniquely needed to enable the generation of sperm and egg cells are aberrantly re-expressed in a myriad of cancer subtypes. These factors are collectively referred to as Cancer-Testis (CT) genes.

We want to understand how selected Cancer-Testis genes influence genome stability pathways in cancer, and whether the fact that cancers aberrantly express these factors might provide us with specific vulnerabilities to be exploited in therapy.
Dr. Gerben Vader
Principal Investigator, Department of Human Genetics, section Oncogenetics.

Pursuing Unique Therapeutic Potential

By pursing this line of research, the scientists in the Vader group aim to advance our understanding CT gene dysfunction outside of their normal physiological environment in germ cells. In addition, they anticipate revealing the presence of targetable vulnerabilities specifically in cancers that hijack CT genes. Due to the uniquely restricted expression pattern of CT genes in non-diseased somatic tissues, developing therapies based on such insights has the potential to deliver highly specific treatment options with very limited side-effects.

For more information, contact Dr. Gerben Vader.

Group members

Maud Schoot Uiterkamp

Ilia Kabanas

Research of the Vader group is embedded within the research program ‘Cancer Biology and Immunology’ at Cancer Center Amsterdam.

The next CCAll meeting is scheduled for Friday May 26 and will feature research from the team of Prof. Renske Steenbergen.

Text by Gerben Vader.

This article was created for Cancer Center Amsterdam.