The Mark Foundation has assigned an ASPIRE award to
Wilbert Zwart from the Netherlands Cancer Institute. He is the only
scientist outside the US to receive this award, and therefore
154.000 euro. He will use it to investigate a 3D-printed matrix on
which metastasized breast cancer cells can grow. These cells'
response to a drug hopefully predicts whether the corresponding
patient will respond to that drug.
For patients with metastasized breast cancer physicians can
choose from different drugs. But what is the best choice?
"Beforehand you can't always be sure which drug will work best in a
patient", says scientist Wilbert
Zwart of the Netherlands Cancer Institute. "So there is a
need for tools to further improve this decision making."
That's why Zwart and his colleague Luis
Solorio from Purdue University will investigate whether
they can test cancer cells' sensitivity to medicines outside the
body. They want to determine whether the response of the tumor
cells outside the body is similar to the effects on the tumor in
the patient. The 154.000 euro associated with the American Mark Foundation for Cancer
ASPIRE award will allow them to briefly grow patients'
metastasized breast cancer cells on a 3D-printed matrix (see
On these cells they will test the medicine the patient receives.
Zwart: "We hope the reaction of the cells can predict whether a
patient responds to the treatment. That's why we'll be comparing
the faith of the cells on the 3D-matrix with the treatment results
of the patient. If this technique works, it can be of great added
value in the clinic. Also, this strategy would allow us to do
clinically relevant research into the biology of metastasized
Luis Solorio developed a cell support matrix on which
metastasized breast cancer cells can grow very well. A 3D printer
fabricates that matrix. The collaboration with the Purdue technical
professor goes well with Zwart's chair at the Eindhoven University
of Technology: "Big leaps in science often go hand in hand with
technical innovations. At the same time the engineer needs the
biological connection and clinical question to enable the best
application of the new technology. The Netherlands Cancer Institute
is an ideal setting for applying new technologies and refining them