The genetic makeup of cancer patients impacts the short- and long-term outcomes of cancer treatment. To improve patient selection and future treatment outcomes, it is necessary to understand the molecular, cellular, and tissue mechanisms underlying DNA damage and repair in both normal and cancer cells.

The DARE research programme studies the role of genetic and chromosomal damage in tumourigenesis and ageing, responses to genotoxic anticancer treatments, and the long-term effects of anticancer treatment.

We coordinate basic translational as well as clinical research in the fields of cancer-related and cancer treatment-related cellular damage in tumours and healthy tissue.

The aim is to study:

  • The role of chromosomal and genetic defects in tumourigenesis and ageing;
  • The responses of normal and cancer cells to genotoxic agents;
  • The short- and long-term effects of anticancer therapeutics.
Relevance

The CRCG research activities benefit patients

The study of gene mutations and mechanisms underlying DNA damage repair provides insight into the short- and long-term side-effects of cancer treatment. These findings help us to improve prognostic models and patient selection. The overall aim is to improve personalized treatments, increase survival rates and, improve the quality of life of cancer patients.

Our research enabled us to identify and validate predictive and prognostic markers in several tumour types, including head and neck cancers, as well as in normal tissues. Based on these results, the prediction and patient selection models could be improved and options for intervening with late side-effects of cancer therapies could be studied

  • Proton therapy is an innovative form of radiation therapy that targets malignant tumours with great precision, causing less damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The CRCG conducts research on this technique, which has been used to treat patients at the UMCG since 2018. The aim is to reduce unintended side-effects in normal tissue and improve the patients’ quality of life by using this technique and evaluating the results.

    The CRCG participates in an extensive international collaboration to further develop and automate treatment methods. In this project, the CRCG and other European partners intend to set up a training network for a new generation of proton therapy researchers.

  • A lot can be learned from our patients. That is why they are asked to participate in OncoLifeS, a UMCG biobank for the storage of data, bodily materials, and quality-of-life assessments of cancer patients, which are subsequently used for UMCG cancer research. From January 2016 (the start of the OncoLifeS) to October 2020, already more than 5,200 patients in total have consented to participate in OncoLifeS.

    The combining of routine clinical data with preserved biological specimens and quality-of-life assessments enables the OncoLifeS researchers to develop better anticancer treatments, which results in an improved quality of life after cancer.