Our Interest

The key scientific interest of our team is to understand how bladder cancer grows and develops and how we could optimize its treatment.

Bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly occurring cancer in men and the 17th in women worldwide with various types and histologies as well as a very versatile course of disease. While papillary non-invasive cancers show 5-year survival rates of up to 95%, more than 50% of metastasized patients die within one year (5-year survival rate 5%).

Therefore, our research activities are based on understanding the basic organization and differentiation of the epithelium of the urinary bladder (urothelium) in benign and malignant conditions. The subsequent central objective of our research group is to decipher the molecular landscapes and clonal growth patterns during the development and progress of urothelial and squamous bladder cancer. This will improve subtyping of tumors and help to identify and select superior (targeted and probably personalized) therapeutic options.

In our past and running projects we work on a) mechanisms of aberrant differentiation in bladder cancer (“why do some bladder cancers look like skin cancers?”), and b) potential targets for therapeutic interventions in squamous bladder cancers, e.g. EGFR (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor), FGFRs (Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptors) or immune checkpoint inhibitors (PD-L1)(“what else can I do instead of ineffective chemotherapy?”). Apart from aberrant squamous differentiation, we are also interested in the clonal evolution of conventional urothelial carcinoma and its impact on disease course (“why are some cancers fatal and others tolerable for some time?”).

Our group uses a wide range of tools based on tissues, cell culture, next generation sequencing and bioinformatics that allows us to comprehensively analyze pathological alterations. We continuously extend our “toolbox” including new in vitro and ex vivo methodologies.

We are also open for collaborative projects either in the field of bladder cancer or gastrointestinal diseases, and therefore are in touch with researchers within the faculty, as well as outside of Aachen and Germany.

Are you interested in answering these questions with us? Please contact us at ngaisaukaachende.