The Dutch Cancer Society, the Dutch Research Council, and the Life Sciences & Health Top Sector together are putting €5.4 million into eight new cancer research projects that bring together technical and medical researchers. Professor Miriam Vollenbroek and Professor Leon Terstappen of the University of Twente are the lead researchers of two of these eight projects. Professor Sabine Siesling of the UT and the IKNL is also leading part of a third project.
Miriam Vollenbroek is the project leader of PARTNR, the ‘Personalized cancer treatment and care platform’. This project is taking a data-driven approach to fatigue in breast cancer, using self-learning software to improve the quality of life in women with breast cancer. By combining these patients’ medical data with data on their day-to-day functioning, appropriate recommendations can be made to better treat their cancer-related fatigue. Miriam Vollenbroek and Dr. Annemieke Witteveen are working with Professor Hermie Hermens and Professor Sabine Siesling to coordinate the various parts of the project, which involves other research groups within the Personalised eHealth Technology research programme at the UT as well as external parties: the Twente Hospital Group, UMC Groningen, UMC Utrecht, the Roessingh rehabilitation centre, the IKNL, and the Helen Dowling Institute (HDI), as well as the Ivido, Evidencio, and Roessingh Research and Development (RRD) companies.
Leon Terstappen is the project leader of PICTURES, a joint project between the UT, Erasmus MC, the UT start-up VyCAP, and the Italian company Menarini. For many patients with metastasised prostate cancer hormone therapy helps to keep the disease under control, but there are also cases in which the tumour resists treatment. This project will develop a blood test to determine the proportion of the tumour cells that are resistant to the intended therapy. This will allow prompt administration of alternative treatments.Terstappen: “With the PICTURES project we hope to develop the ability to test the effectiveness of medicines on the cancer cells of individual patients, so as to be able to deliver the most effective treatment.”
Sabine Siesling is the leader of part of a third project, AMICUS (AI in Medical Imaging for novel Cancer User Support), working together with Dr. Erik Koffijberg and Dr. Kees Slump. The project is being led by Professor Andre Dekker of Maastricht University. Other involved institutes include the UMCG, Tilburg University, the IKNL and the Twente Hospital Group. This project will focus on image-forming techniques, such as MRI and PET scans, which play an important role in treatment choices. A technology will be developed to enable large quantities of images from different hospitals to be analysed without jeopardising patient privacy. Siesling: “In the AMICUS project we aim to improve the use of imaging with AI in order to stimulate the organisation and (cost-)effective use of diagnostics and treatment for cancer patients in daily practice.”
The aim of the collaboration between the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) is to link oncological knowledge with the innovation power of technical researchers and companies. More than 20 companies and organisations are involved in these research projects; for more, see the overview of all the approved projects.