14 January 2021

Several researchers at the Radboudumc have received grants to start new studies, including on rare diseases, liver disease and cancer metastases. These are grants from the Dutch Research Council (NWO), European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases (EJP-RD) and the Gastric Liver Disease Foundation (MLDS).

Geert Litjens, Wouter Bulten and David Tellez

Pathology researchers Wouter Bulten, David Tellez and Geert Litjens receive an NWO Take-off grant of 40,000 euros to investigate what follow-up steps are needed to deploy algorithms based on artificial intelligence in the daily practice of pathologists. This includes the investigation of guarantees for patient safety and the integration with existing local and national hospital information systems. They receive this grant from the NWO, within the domain Applied and Technical Sciences, under High Tech Systems and Materials, with an emphasis on Socially Responsible Innovation.

Koen van den Dries

Cell biologist Koen van den Dries will research the movement of cancer cells and the molecular mechanisms of metastases. Metastases occur when cancer cells move from the original tumor to another tissue. It is known that metastases are caused by the motility of cancer cells, but the ability to prevent metastases is limited. Therefore, more knowledge is needed about the locomotion of cancer cells, something that is regulated by the skeleton of the cancer cell. The aim of this study is to determine what role small differences in the building blocks of this skeleton play in the locomotion of cancer cells. The expectation is that better defining these differences will lead to more possibilities for preventing metastases in the future. For this research, Koen van den Dries is receiving an NWO XS grant of 50,000 euros and a NWO KLEIN grant of 350,000 euros, both intended for innovative, fundamental research of high quality and/or scientific urgency.

Michiel Vermeulen

Michiel Vermeulen, professor of Molecular Biology, also receives a KLEIN grant from the NWO, together with his colleague Dmitri Filippov from Leiden. They will conduct research on adenosine diphosphate ribosylation. This is a common post-translational protein modification involved in various pathological processes such as cancer, age-related diseases and viral infections. To design better drugs, it is important to know which proteins can interact with adenosine diphosphate ribosylation chains. In this research, several adenosine diphosphate ribose-containing molecules are synthesized and then used for interaction experiments in extracts from human cells. Furthermore, follow-up experiments are being conducted to identify adenosine diphosphate ribose binding proteins that play a role in the cellular response following the onset of DNA damage. The researchers will receive a sum of 720,000 euros.

Joost Drenth

Joost Drenth, Professor of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, together with colleagues from Amsterdam and Leiden, is receiving a grant worth 165,000 euros from the Gastrointestinal Foundation. The aim is to form a consortium in order to exchange knowledge and experience about patients with Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver in order to improve the care of these patients. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a metabolic disorder that leads to excessive fat accumulation in the liver without any other apparent cause such as alcohol consumption. This disease can eventually lead to complications such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure or cardiovascular disease.

European funding for therapy development in rare diseases

Radboudumc and Radboud University researchers were successful in receiving funding from the European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases (EJP-RD) (5 out of 8 grants in the Netherlands). EJP-RD brings together over 130 institutions from 35 countries and focuses on pre-clinical research to develop effective therapies for rare diseases.

Werner Koopman

Werner Koopman (Dept. of Biochemistry), received 250,000 Euro as a member of the CureMILS consortium. The project will run for three years, receiving a total of 2.4 million Euro in funding, and will apply a cell-based reprogramming strategy for drug repositioning in patients with mitochondrial DNA-associated Leigh Syndrome.

Rob Collin

Rob Collin (Dept. of Human Genetics), is the coordinator of the GET-READY consortium, that received a total of 1.5 million Euro. Together with colleagues at the Radboudumc (Erwin van Wijk) and partners from six other European countries, he will develop a number of innovative gene-based therapeutic strategies and delivery systems to combat inherited retinal diseases caused by mutations in the EYS or USH2A gene.

Nael Nadif Kasri

Nael Nadif Kasri (Dept. of Human Genetics and Cognitive neurosciences) received 250,000 Euro as a member of the SCN1A-UP! consortium. Together with academic partners from France, Italy, Belgium, and Germany he will develop new gene-based and stem cell-based reprogramming strategies for epilepsies linked to mutations in SCN1A gene.

Clara van Karnebeek

Professor Clara van Karnebeek (Dept. of Paediatrics) is the coordinator of the CHARLIE consortium, which receives a total of 1.88 million. Together with Radboudumc colleague dr. Karlien Coene, patient representative Hanka Dekker of VKS, and partners from 4 other European countries and Canada, she will develop innovative genetic and pharmacological therapies in stem cells and animal models for severe neurometabolic diseases caused by lysine metabolism defects.

Jo Huiqing Zhou

Jo Huiqing Zhou (Dept. of Molecular Developmental Biology, RU and Dept. Human Genetics) has received 250K Euro as a member of the AAK-INSIGHT consortium. Together with academic and clinical partners from Sweden, Israel, Germany France, and Turkey, she will establish therapeutic strategies and dissect the associated mechanism of action for aniridia, a rare progressive cornea opacification disease.

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