Radiotherapy is an essential and highly effective part of the treatment of many cancers, including paediatric and adult brain tumours. Irradiation of normal brain tissue is, however, unavoidable and can result in major impairments of neurocognitive functioning and reduced quality of life. Similar effects occur after chemotherapy for brain and non-intracranial tumours.
Lara Barazzuol’s group focuses on assessing the effect of radiation (and chemotherapy) on the brain and aims to achieve an improved biological and molecular understanding of cancer treatment-induced neurocognitive dysfunction.
When using radiotherapy in the treatment of primary and metastatic 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 treatment.
Lara Barazzuol’s lab, by using a combination of methodologies (ranging from brain organoids, bioinformatics, in vivo imaging and behavioural tests), aims to understand the underlying biological and molecular mechanisms of radiotherapy-induced neurocognitive dysfunction; and, to elucidate the effect of genetic variation on the pattern and severity of neurocognitive outcome based on clinical data.
Another interest of Lara Barazzuol’s lab is investigating how defects in DNA repair impact on human health, with a particular focus on neurodegenerative diseases, and understanding how this knowledge can be exploited in the clinic.
Selected ongoing projects/grants:
KWF high risk project: Targeting protein aggregation to ameliorate radiotherapy-induced neurocognitive dysfunction.
KWF Young Investigator project: Preventing radiation-induced neurocognitive dysfunction in patients with paediatric brain tumours: biological mechanisms and potential role of proton therapy.
ZonMw Off-Road project: An improved understanding of radiotherapy-induced neurocognitive decline: biological mechanisms and treatment potential.
Projects for internships of Master’s and technical students are available in the following topics:
Investigating the response of radiation or chemotherapy-induced DNA damage on human brain organoids
Investigating the role of DNA damage-induced protein aggregation, senescence and immune response in neurocognitive dysfunction
Further development and characterization of our human brain organoid system
Analysis of behavioural data and PET neuroimaging after radiation damage
No vacancies at the moment.