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Developing neural crest organoids with inducible neuroblastoma to model chemoresistance in MYCN amplification related high-risk cases

Project description

Modelling neuroblastoma drug resistance

Neuroblastoma, the third most prevalent cancer in children, originates in the sympathetic nervous system from neural crest progenitor cells. In 20 % of cases, neuroblastoma has poor prognosis and is linked to the amplification of the MYCN oncogene. However, the mechanisms of treatment resistance remain poorly understood. To advance progress on this front, the EU-funded NeuroblastORG project proposes to develop a human organoid model of neural crest cells from induced pluripotent stem cells. The idea is to recapitulate the specific embryonic developmental stages of the neural crest lineage and to model neuroblastoma through overexpression of the MYCN oncogene. This will enable researchers to screen the efficacy of various drugs and investigate the mechanism of neuroblastoma chemoresistance.


Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common cancer in infants and the 3rd most common cancer in children. According to the WHO 90% of NBs occur in children younger than 5 years old and 15% of all pediatric cancer related death are due to NB. Approximately 20% of NB cases are characterized by the amplification of the MYCN gene, which is linked to more aggressive tumors and poor prognosis (high-risk NB). Despite recent treatment advances, relapsing high-risk NB often leads to death. Understanding mechanisms of therapy resistance can help to develop more effective treatment protocols. However, investigation of acquired resistance upon chemotherapy is largely limited by the number of patients with high-risk NB and the availability of adequate model systems. Mice models of NB are often used, however species specific differences in sympathoblast development might result in misleading findings. Sympathoblast are the fetal counterparts of NB cancer cells and they are derived from the neural crest (NC).
The overall aim of the NeuroblastORG project is to establish a human organoid model of the NC lineage, which can recapitulate human specific embryonic developmental stages, while also giving rise to sympathoblast-like NB cells, in addition to healthy sympathoadrenergic lineage derivatives (NB organoid). To reach this aim, human induced pluripotent stem cell lines will be genetically modified to overexpress the MYCN gene under the control of an NC-specific promoter, but only in a subset of NC cells within the organoids. Relevance of the established model will be validated by comparing gene expression signatures between NB organoids and human NB patient tumour samples.
The NB organoid model system will provide a platform to simulate treatment of NB cells with NB-therapy relevant agents and monitor the effect of the applied treatment, allowing the investigation of human NB-specific chemoresistance acquisition in MYCN amplification related high-risk cases.


Net EU contribution
€ 157 622,40
Magyar tudosok korutja 2
1117 Budapest

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Közép-Magyarország Budapest Budapest
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
No data