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Brief description

Project title: ‘On the road to excellence in unravelling the (epi)genetic landscape of hematologic neoplasms’ – NEXT_LEVEL.

Implementation: January 1st, 2020 – December 31st , 2023.

Budget: 899 525.00 EUR

Why hemato-oncology and hematologic neoplasms?

Cancer cells photo

The broad term “hematologic neoplasms” concerns various forms of leukemias and lymphomas derived from myeloid and lymphoid lineages. These neoplasms pose a major medical problem worldwide and account for ~10% of new cancer cases diagnosed in developed countries. Despite major advancements in treatment, such as ~40% increase in five-year survival rate for leukemia in England and Wales in the past 40 years or the improved five-year survival rate for Hodgkin lymphoma from 40% in the 60ies of the 20th century to 86% in the most recent studies, still for many patients the available therapies remain unsatisfactory. This is especially true for patients diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease. Worryingly, in children more than 40% of all childhood tumors are leukemias and lymphomas.

The advancements in treatment of hematologic malignancies in the last decades were only possible because of the unprecedented improvement in the understanding of molecular processes responsible for cancer development. Historically, findings in cancer cytogenetics and identification of typical chromosomal aberrations as the initiating events in many leukemias and lymphomas translated into improved diagnostic and prognostic procedures. The understanding of the genetic background of these neoplasms led also to the identification of new druggable genes and pathways, and to the introduction of novel treatment modalities to aid patients. However, there is still a great need of developing new targeted therapies.

In recent years, genetic studies on hematologic neoplasms were shaped by growing evidence of the importance of the epigenetic component and the complex interplay between genetics and epigenetics in their development. Importantly, methylation patterns are often disturbed in hematologic malignancies. This is to some extent caused by mutations in genes encoding enzymes involved in DNA methylation and demethylation, such as DNMT3 and TET1/2 in leukemia. Histone H3 methylation at lysine 4 and 27 is also commonly deregulated in leukemia and lymphoma by mutations in MLL or in components of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) that shows histone methyltransferase activity5,6. Recently, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) were also reported to be involved in histone modifications and regulation of gene expression and to be implicated in hematologic malignancies.


The main objective of NEXT_LEVEL project is to step up and stimulate scientific excellence in hemato-oncology of the Institute of Human Genetics, Polish Academy of Sciences (IHG PAS) in Poznan and 3 leading European research institutions: University Medical Center Groningen (the Netherlands), Univeristy of Gent (Belgium) and Ulm University (Germany) through a set of coordination and support actions building up a long-lasting collaboration on a sustainable basis.

Specific objectives:


Relevant publications

Content will be available soon.