Large KWF grant for UMCG researchers Kristel Muijs and Bart Cornelissen

UMCG researchers Kristel Muijs and Bart Cornelissen receive €1.7 million from the KWF Cancer Foundation for their research into cancer. KWF provided a total of 13 million euros for 19 new studies that contribute to a better life with and after cancer.
Kristel and Bart

Optimal treatment for oesophageal cancer patients

In her research, radiotherapist-oncologist Kristel Muijs is developing predictive models that can be used for optimal radiation treatment for oesophageal cancer patients. The aim of the research is to reduce complications after treatment. An important risk factor for the development of many of these complications is the radiation dose in the healthy organs surrounding the tumour (such as the heart and lungs). This applies to complications directly related to radiotherapy, but it also affects the risk of complications after surgery.

The predictive models describe the relationship between the radiation dose on healthy organs and the risk of developing complications. They can be used as guidelines when making the radiotherapy radiation plan in order to obtain an optimal dose distribution. At the same time, these models can be used to estimate the risk of complications for different irradiation plans for the same patient. In this way, patients can be selected who have a relevant benefit from new radiation techniques, such as proton radiotherapy.

The prognosis of patients with oesophageal cancer has improved considerably in recent years with the introduction of chemoradiotherapy pre-treatment followed by oesophagectomy. With the improvement of survival, the prevention of (permanent) complications has become increasingly important. With this study, Muijs expects to further improve the quality of life of oesophageal cancer patients in the future.

New radioactive substance as cancer medicine

Researcher Bart Cornelissen is investigating a new radioactive substance, CC1, as a potential cancer medicine. An important property of cancer tissue is a high instability of the genetic material: the DNA. Cancer cells often have defects in the molecular machinery that maintains DNA and repairs it when damaged. This property could be used as a target for anti-cancer drugs. 

The radioactive substance that Cornelissen investigates could be used to attack cancer cells from the inside. A special feature of this substance is the very short duration of the radioactive radiation. The substance is brought right up to the DNA in the nucleus of the tumour cells. The aim of the research is to study how the substance works and which patients benefit most from therapy with it. In addition, he is investigating the possible side-effects of this substance in healthy tissue. In the future, Cornelissen hopes to use this radioactive therapy in people with cancer.

Other KWF awards

In total, all research supported by KWF covers a wide range of themes, including immunotherapy, returning to work, informed decision-making and image-guided treatment. Top researchers from 8 institutes take a close look at several types of cancer, including common (colon, prostate), rare (pubic lip, neuroblastoma) and difficult to treat forms (oesophagus, stomach, pancreas). All studies are fully funded by donations and will start this year.