In the treatment of brain tumours, damage of normal brain tissue is an unavoidable side effect. This can severely compromise cancer patients’ quality of life by diminishing their neurocognitive function, especially in cases of childhood brain tumours. The underlying mechanisms are not fully understood, and, at present, there is no effective therapeutic strategy.

Lara Barazzuol’s lab, by using a combination of model systems and methodologies, aims:

  • to understand the underlying molecular and biological mechanisms of cancer treatment-induced neurocognitive dysfunction, with a primary focus on the effects of radiotherapy.
  • to evaluate pre-clinically candidate therapeutic interventions for cancer treatment-induced neurocognitive dysfunction.
  • to investigate how defects in the DNA damage response impact on the brain aging process and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
Relevance

Ameliorating cancer treatment-induced neurocognitive sequelae

By understanding the effects of radiotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment in the brain, Lara Barazzuol’s lab aims to improve the neurocognitive outcome of brain tumour survivors and their long-term quality of life. This is particularly relevant in the case of paediatric brain tumour patients, who have a near-normal life expectancy.

Research Interests

  • By using post-mortem human brain samples, we investigate how the normal-appearing human brain responds to the tumour and its treatment. For this, we perform integrated transcriptomic and tissue analyses.

  • Within this line of research, we investigate the DNA damage-induced neuro-inflammatory and immune response, with a particular focus on microglia. We here make use of human brain organoids and animal models.

  • Genome instability and loss of proteostasis represent two primary hallmarks of ageing. However, little is known about their interaction. Here, we aim to elucidate how (radiation-induced) DNA damage can lead to proteome instability and consequent neurodegeneration. To this end, we use cellular, brain organoid and animal models.

  • Although proton therapy is increasingly being used, little is known about the response of the brain at the cellular level to protons compared to standard photons used in conventional radiotherapy. This line of research is particularly relevant for paediatric brain tumour patients, who are largely treated with proton therapy.

  • To optimally use modern radiotherapy technologies, such as proton therapy, it is essential to understand how different brain regions respond to radiation and contribute to neurocognitive outcome. For this, we have collaborative projects that include both pre-clinical and clinical data.

Contact

Greetje Noppert Secretary - Section Molecular Cellbiology

Dr. Lara Barazzuol
Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems
University Medical Center Groningen
Internal Zip code FB31
Antonius Deusinglaan, 1
9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands

Visiting Address
Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems
University Medical Center Groningen
Building 3215, 5th floor, room 569
Antonius Deusinglaan, 1
9713 AV Groningen, The Netherlands