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Laboratorium Kindergeneeskunde

The laboratory of Pediatrics is a research laboratory belonging to the department of Pediatrics and as such is strongly embedded in the Sophia Children's hospital, a perfect setting for successful translational research. During its' 50 years of existence, research in the lab has developed into a dynamic bidirectional interaction between scientist researchers from the Pediatrics laboratory and key clinical researchers in the pediatric hospital. As such, patient cohorts are extensively characterized in the laboratory to, for example, unravel disease pathogenesis or therapy responsiveness and, vice versa, discoveries from the laboratory offer new diagnostic potential, break new ground in therapeutic strategies or allow patient classification.
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For example, we recently observed that nasopharyngeal carriage of Mycoplasma pneumoniae is common in asymptomatic healthy children. In consequence, detection of this pathogen in the nasopharynx is unreliable to diagnose M. pneumonia infection. Moreover, our gastroenterology research has yielded a novel method to identify intestinal antigen-specific T cells in peripheral blood. This technique strongly enhances the sensitivity to detect and monitor ongoing intestinal inflammation in peripheral blood which is highly desirable in the treatment of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease. In the field of pediatric leukemia, we discovered a new subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia associated with a high risk of treatment failure and high incidence of Ikaros deletions (so-called BCR-ABL1-like) and implemented deletions in the B-cell transcription factor Ikaros in risk stratification of newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
A key strength of the laboratory is a combination of two forms of research: on one hand the lab harbors continuity through established competitive research lines built on unique basic science, technical knowledge and expertise, extensive bio banking and well characterized patient groups. On the other hand, the lab has the flexibility to accommodate and support pioneer projects, innovative new research projects conceived in the clinic, by providing theoretical knowledge and technical expertise allowing competitive new projects to take shape.

The Pediatric advantage
Uniting diverse disease-specific research lines with the focus on pediatric onset has added value. Clearly some diseases warrant research because they are limited to Pediatric onset only. However, for other diseases the pediatric forms of disease often have different pathogenesis and different therapy response than the adult form, a phenomenon in part attributable to maturing immune- and endocrine- systems in the developing child. In turn application of treatment strategies designed for adults require adaptation to avoid severe impact on the child's growth and development. Such adaptation often requires new parameters to define therapy success. From the scientific perspective, for several multifactorial diseases, studying disease etiology in children has the advantage of finding a stronger influence of the genetic background thus identifying true drivers of disease.

Established research lines
Over the years the established research lines in the laboratory of Pediatrics have evolved around three clinical themes being Infectious Diseases (PI Wendy W. J. Unger); Gastroenterology and Nutrition (PI Janneke N. Samsom) and Oncology (PI Monique L. den Boer, and Maarten Fornerod). Although the research is related to different clinical settings the themes share research interests into many common biological pathways

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