“Tumor cells can't be studied separately from their surroundings. They often respond to nearby cells, such as macrophages, also known as the 'vacuum cleaners' of the human body, as cleaning up dead cells is one of their functions. My research focused on the interaction between prostate cancer cells and macrophages. These macrophages can work against the tumor, or even assist it. I've examined both these processes and found that the androgen receptor played a central role. This receptor is vital to the growth of prostate cancer cells, but can also be found in other cell types. Interestingly, we discovered that activating the androgen receptor in macrophages made the prostate cancer cells more invasive. On the other hand, inhibiting the androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells prevented them from being attacked by macrophages, allowing them to grow freely. Bipolar androgen therapy may be a strategy to consider: this treatment alternates between inhibiting and activating the androgen receptor. My time in the lab came with a set of challenges as well as valuable memories, much like my experiences running a marathon. There may be moments of perseverance and determination, but ultimately, the effort has been more than worthwhile.”
Anniek will defend her thesis on October 6.
prof. dr. W.T. Zwart
dr. A.M. Bergman