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23Sep 2020

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Nine Netherlands Cancer Institute research groups to receive Dutch Cancer Society funding

The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding) has awarded funding to 9 Netherlands Cancer Institute research teams. This money, which amounts to a total of 4.6 million euros, will help fund their research into treatment for lung cancer, breast cancer, brain tumors, and more. We highlight three of these projects on this page (please find a full overview of research projects below).


Surgeon Koen Hartemink and his team will research the best treatment for patients with early stage lung cancer: radiation or surgery. "Three large-scale international patient trials are currently running to find an answer to this question, but these results won't come in for several more years," he explains. Nearly 14,000 people in the Netherlands are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Some of them receive their diagnosis when their tumor is still at an early stage. "In our research, we are looking to compare the data of 1880 patients who have received treatment with surgery or radiation therapy in the Netherlands, which will take about 1.5 years. That will quickly provide us with vital knowledge to determine which treatment best fits which patient."

Precision immunotherapy

Another project that can now come to fruition will take us one crucial step closer to precision immunotherapy for breast cancer patients. A small number of patients with a hard to treat type of tumor (triple negative) appears to benefit from immunotherapy treatment in combination with chemotherapy. "We know very little about ways to identify these individual patients, and what kinds of chemotherapy works best in combination with the immunotherapy," medical oncologist Marleen Kok explains. "Previous research shows that the interaction between breast cancer cells and certain immune cells, myeloid cells, may play a vital role. We will use this Dutch Cancer Society grant to study this interaction in approximately 250 patients receiving treatment with immunotherapy and two types of chemotherapy in the Netherlands."

New drug combinations

Research into the treatment of brain tumors will now also be able to progress. Patients with brain tumors are often confronted with bad prognoses and little chance of recovery. New, improved treatment is essential. A research team led by Olaf van Tellingen, Leila Akkari, and Mark de Gooijer is currently working on the development of new treatments for glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor with which approximately 800 adults are diagnosed in the Netherlands every year. De Gooijer: "We have discovered new combinations of drugs that force the glioblastoma cells to permanently stop dividing. We will now be able to look into the most effective drug combinations that are most likely to permanently halt cell division in our patients." The research team expects their research to eventually lead to a clinical patient study.  


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