Major step for blood cancer patients: Hemato-Oncogenetics Service at National Center of Genetics (NCG) fully completed
Since the end of 2019, the Haemato-Oncogenetics Service of the LNS National Center of Genetics (NCG) is headed by Dr Seval Türkmen. Her appointment was the kick-off of a subsequent set-up phase, which was successfully completed in 2022. All relevant analyses and diagnoses of patients from Luxembourg are now carried out by the team of experts at LNS, which now boasts nine members.
Genetic diagnostics for leukaemia and lymphoma
“Haemato-oncology is the part of haematology concerned with cancers of the blood and lymph systems, such as leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma”, explains Seval Türkmen. “My team primarily performs genetic diagnostics for myeloid and lymphatic neoplasia. In patients with suspected blood cancer, we are able to detect chromosomal changes through chromosome analysis and targeted genetic examinations, which contribute to the diagnosis and determine the prognosis and severity of the disease.”
The unit cooperates closely with all doctors and hospitals across the country in order to provide the most efficient patient care possible, Seval Türkmen continues: “In November 2022, the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) became the last hospital in the country to work exclusively with us. This means that cytogenetic and molecular cytogenetic analyses of all patients from Luxembourg with hematologic cancers are now performed in the country.”
Guide for treatment and the use of “targeted” therapies
Thanks to the Haemato-Oncogenetics Service, LNS has closed a gap and sustainably accelerated another process in the national health system. Whereas up to now some relevant samples had to go via laboratories in neighbouring countries, insourcing now ensures short distances – and also a competent exchange at the cutting edge of research.
Seval Türkmen says: “We are in permanent dialogue with our colleagues in the country’s practices and hospitals. This is how we ensure that our findings also serve as a guide for treatment and help doctors to use ‘targeted’ therapies. After diagnosis, these genetic tests also allow us to monitor therapeutic response as well as detect resistance mechanisms during follow-up. For leukaemia and lymphoma patients, we are talking about the gold standard of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.”
Next target: establish research projects at LNS
To meet this target, a complementary team was set up within three years, ensuring nothing but the highest quality standards synonymous with the Luxembourg health system. Seval Türkmen worked at the world-renowned Charité Hospital in Berlin until September 2019, where she served as Head of the Cancer Cytogenetics department for 15 years. At LNS, her team currently consists of seven medical technicians and one biologist: “Haemato-oncogenetics is a very specific topic. Our team is therefore highly international, and each individual member brings a corresponding specialisation to the table. This is how we can best serve the country and its people.”
With this in mind, Seval Türkmen and her unit are looking to further their work: “Our top priority is of course to deliver excellent diagnoses. In a next step, we would like to perform all next generation sequencing analyses related with hematological cancers in collaboration with our Molecular Genetics Unit in the NCG. Moreover, we would like to start research projects, for example on the topic of multiple myeloma, a cancer originating from the plasma cells of the bone marrow, on which I have conducted research before.”
Hämato-Onkogenetik ist ein sehr spezifisches Thema. Unser Team ist daher besonders international aufgestellt, und jedes einzelne Mitglied bringt eine individuelle Spezialisierung mit. So können wir Land und Leuten optimal dienen.
Dr Seval Türkmen
Head of Hemato-Oncogenetics Service