The Research Group Pediatric Hematology and Oncology was well-represented at the 29th Annual Kind Philipp Meeting in Wilsede. Eight of our students attended the meeting and presented their work on pediatric AML to an audience of fellow pediatric cancer researchers: Anna, Lukas, Marius, Sina (cand. med.), Dorit, Oriol, Michelle, and Sofia (PhD students). This year, the Kind Philipp Presentation Award was also offered for the first time, to the best presentation of unpublished data at the meeting. Michelle has received the 500 Euro prize, for her talk “CRISPRi/a screening to identify functional lncRNAs in pediatric AML”.
In her talk, Michelle presented preliminary work on her PhD project. She uses CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) to overcome several limitations of shRNAs, and to enable the targeting of cis-acting and nuclear long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). In a direct comparison between the two technologies, CRISPRi proved to be a far more specific method to knock down the expression of both coding and non-coding known oncogenes. Moreover, a pilot CRISPRi screen of twelve lncRNAs which are upregulated in hematopoietic stem cells and pediatric AML samples identified two potentially functional candidates. Michelle is now working towards a pooled CRISPRi approach for screening 650 lncRNAs.