Over 2.2 million euros from KWF for three UMCG cancer studies

UMCG researchers Bart Cornelissen, Vincent van den Boom and Carolien Woolthuis have received a grant from KWF for their fundamental research into radiation-sensitive drugs, gene mutations in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and the underlying biology of AML, respectively.
Carolien Woolthuis en Vincent van den Boom

Major investment in fundamental research

Why does one body cell become malignant while another does not? Why is one cancer cell responsive to treatment and the other is not? Why does one cancer cell spread and the other not? KWF Kankerbestrijding is investing a total of 14.7 million in 23 new studies focusing on these kinds of fundamental cancer questions. The aim is to find out how cancer cells work, what their weaknesses are and how we can exploit them to control cancer. Three of these studies are taking place at the UMCG.

Bart Cornelissen: Local treatment with radiation-sensitive drugs

Cancer drugs often travel throughout the body on their way to their target (the tumour). This may cause damage to healthy tissue, which can lead to unpleasant side effects. Dr Bart Cornelissen is working with Wiktor Szymanski from the RUG on a new way to allow drugs to do their work exclusively in the tumour. To do this, he couples the drug to a substance that makes it inactive and harmless. This coupling breaks through radioactive radiation, allowing one to release the drug locally by radiating the tumour (often already part of the treatment). Cornelissen will search for the most effective compounds and expects to develop at least one radiation-sensitive drug.

Vincent van den Boom: Unravelling the role of BCOR/L1 mutations in leukaemia

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a severe form of blood cancer caused by mutations in DNA. Mutations in the BCOR and BCORL1 genes are associated with a poor prognosis for AML patients. Dr Vincent van den Boom will use very specific changes in DNA (CRISPR-Cas technology) to investigate how these mutations cause healthy blood cells to turn into leukaemia cells. In doing so, he aims to discover new targets for the treatment of AML patients.

Carolien Woolthuis: Biological processes in nucleophosmin-mutated acute myeloid leukaemia

To develop a more targeted and effective treatment for AML patients, it is essential that we learn more about the underlying biology of this severe disease. In a large proportion of AML patients, a mutation in the nucleophosmin gene is found in leukaemia cells. These mutations lead to altered localisation of the nucleophosmin protein in the cell.Dr Carolien Woolthuis is investigating the cell biological changes caused by the nucleophosmin mutation and how this can lead to leukaemia.The obtained Young Investigator Grant is funded from the Alpe d'HuZes/KWF fund (Bas Mulder award) and offers Carolien the opportunity to set up her own line of research within the Department of Haematology.

You can read more about all studies on the KWF website.