3 UMCG studies receive grant from KWF

3 UMCG studies receive a grant from KWF. These are studies by Floris Foijer (ERIBA), Jan Jacob Schuringa (Hematology) and Inês Farinha Antunes (Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging). Foijer and Schuringa will each receive a grant of €750,000, Antunes will receive nearly €200,000. Also, 3 UMCG employees are participating in an Erasmus MC project that was awarded. KWF has awarded about 70 projects in total. 


Floris Foijer - How aggressive cancers bypass the immune system

'In about 80% of all cancers the cancer cells have an abnormal amount of DNA, this property is called aneuploidy. Healthy cells can survive poorly with aneuploidy, but in cancer cells it actually helps the cells survive and even become more aggressive. Recently, we have found that aneuploid non-cancer cells activate the immune system, but aneuploid cancers actually manage to bypass the immune system. We just don't yet fully understand how exactly aneuploid cancer cells hide from the immune system. That's what we want to investigate in this study. Reactivating the immune system could potentially be a powerful method of clearing aneuploid cancers. Since more than 80% of human cancers are aneuploid, such a therapy would potentially be applicable to a lot of cancer patients.'

Jan Jacob Schuringa - Unraveling mechanisms of leukemia cells

‘Leukemia is a form of blood cancer that is still difficult to treat. In many patients the disease returns after treatment due to resistant leukemic stem cells escaping therapy. It is therefore essential to characterize the molecular mechanisms of these leukemic stem cells. These leukemic stem cells are located in the bone marrow, and it has recently been discovered that especially in patients with the worst prognosis, a large number of so-called tumor-supporting M2 macrophages are located in the bone marrow. Macrophages are white blood cells that play an important role in the immune system. These M2 macrophages can promote leukemia growth and reduce the effect of therapies. The goal of the study is to detail the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which these M2 macrophages promote leukemia growth. Ultimately, we hope this will allow us to develop better treatment methods that can target not only the cancer cell itself, but also the microenvironment in which the leukemic stem cell resides.’

Inês Farinha Antunes - New treatment for ovarian cancer

'Ovarian cancer is a major cause of death in women because the disease is often detected at a late stage. By then, the disease is often too extensive beyond the ovaries, making for difficult treatment and keeping the 5-year survival rate relatively low. Therefore, there is a great need for more effective treatment of advanced ovarian cancer. Current treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy often prove insufficiently effective in treating advanced ovarian cancer. Often the cancer recurs. This study examines the effect of a new treatment based on follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), radionuclide therapy. There is a high concentration of this FSH in cells and blood vessels of ovarian tumors. It is not found in other tissues, if at all. This new treatment is preceded by a PET scan for selecting suitable patients and determining the optimal dose. With this, we hope to add a new option to the arsenal of treatments for this disease.' 

Mission Tumor Unknown

Every year, metastases are found in 1,500 people in the Netherlands but the location of the original tumor remains unknown. Dr. Sophie Veldhuijzen van Zanten (Department of Radiology & Nuclear Medicine, Erasmus MC) leads a consortium researching how to improve diagnostics using a new, more sensitive substance for PET-CT imaging. On behalf of the UMCG, Andor Glaudemans (nuclear medicine physician), Hilde Jalving (internist-oncologist), and Michel van Kruchten (internist-oncologist) are also part of the consortium. 
The research will be conducted in a partnership between patient organization Mission Tumor Unknown, the Integral Cancer Center Netherlands (IKNL), Cyclotron Noordwest B.V. and a working group of medical oncologists, radiologists and nuclear medicine specialists in seven academic and non-academic hospitals.  

More about these awards can be read on the KWF website.