dr. Jilke De Wilde (MD)
Effective cancer treatment starts with an early and accurate diagnosis. As a pathology resident and PhD student, my aim is to improve cancer diagnosis by bringing emerging molecular techniques into clinical practice. This is especially important for patients with CUP (Cancer of Unknown Primary), because the tissue where the tumor originated cannot be identified with conventional methods.
A promising new technique is e.g. DNA methylation profiling. The DNA methylation pattern is a unique ‘fingerprint’ that can be used to determine the tissue-of-origin in CUPs. We apply methylation profiling not only to DNA extracted from paraffin-embedded tissue, but also to cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from liquid biopsies such as blood. Contrary to tissue biopsies, liquid biopsies are non- or minimally invasive, which accelerates the diagnostic process and significantly reduces discomfort for the patient.
My research also focuses on writing new computational analysis pipelines to incorporate epigenetic data within the existing histopathological and molecular knowledge on tumor classification. I hope to build a flexible, reliable and cost-effective diagnostic test that can be a valuable addition to the pathologist’s toolbox.