2 September 2021

Three groundbreaking research projects at Radboudumc and Radboud University have been awarded grants of up to 50,000 Euros through NWO's ENW - XS Open Competition.

These are the following research projects:

RNA computational logic to classify and remove senescent cells 

Prof. Dr. R. Brock (Raboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Nanomedicine theme)

Senescent cells are cells that cause various aging-related diseases. Currently, there is no therapy that selectively removes these cells. To accomplish this, we will use a biological computer based on RNA logic gates that measure the presence of microRNAs (RNAs that do not encode proteins) in cells and classify cells as senescent or non-senescent. If classified as senescent, a therapeutic program will be run and the cells will be selectively removed with it. The circuit will be transported to liver cells via nanoparticles. Liver cells are readily accessible in humans, which makes the path to clinical applications close.

A Trojan Horse Strategy for New Antibiotics

Dr. W.A. Velema (Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, Vascular Damage theme)

Antibiotic resistance is a major problem in modern medicine and is a threat to global healthcare. Current approaches to the resistance problem have failed and there is a need to find radically new strategies. This project investigates whether it is possible to take advantage of bacteria's own machinery to get so-called 'antisense agents' into the bacteria and use them as antibiotics. This 'Trojan Horse' is an attractive possibility to fight bacteria with, because it is highly adaptive and thus can also target resistant bacteria.

Single-cell transcriptomic and intracellular protein detection for drug efficacy screening

Dr. F.M. Rivello (Radboud University Nijmegen)

The drug development process is a huge waste race (90% of candidate drugs fail somewhere in the clinical trials). The main reason for this is a lack of knowledge about how drugs really work. Recently, a new technology has become available (QuRIE-seq), which allows the analysis of both transcriptome and intracellular (phospho)proteins at the level of individual cells. Inspired by this, this project is mapping the differences in action of four different drugs. Each of these drugs acts on the same protein (the so-called BTK protein, a target of anti-cancer drugs) and disrupts B-cell receptor signaling in B-cells.


The Open Competition ENW - XS grants of up to €50,000 are intended to enable promising ideas, innovative and high-risk initiatives within the seven ENW disciplines. The proposed research is groundbreaking and it is not certain in advance whether the intended objective will be achieved. What counts is that every result, both positive and negative, helps science. More information about the ENW Open Competition.

Read more about the groundbreaking research projects on the NWO website.

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