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Big grant for national biobank immunotherapy

21 August 2017

​​​A joint project of UMC Groningen, Radboudumc and the Netherlands Cancer Institute gets a large grant, 3.6 million Euros, from of the Dutch Cancer Society. With this money, the centers will set up a national biobank that will provide a better insight into why certain types of tumors react to immunotherapy and others do not.

In this biobank, body material -- such as blood, plasma, blood cells, feces and tissue biopsies - can be stored from 2000 patients with nine different types of tumors. Subsequently, a number of immunoassays will be performed on these materials. Oncologist researcher John Haanen: "This national biobank and the data we can derive from it will have a positive impact on the immunotherapy research in the Netherlands. What makes this biobank unique is that we not only use DNA analyzes of tumor biopsies, but also examine the tissue to study the presence of immune cells, their properties, and the defense mechanisms that the cancer uses to paralyze the immune system."


"After that, we will study, in the blood and other body materials from these patients, whether there are markers that help predict whether patients may or may not respond to immune therapy. All of these data are entered into a large database that provides insight into how tumors handle the immune system. For those patients who are being, or are going to be, treated with immunotherapy, that data is also linked to the outcome of their treatment. Ultimately, we will make all of this information anonymously available to researchers and doctors so that further research can be done. As a result, we expect to be able to determine, faster and even more specifically, which patient can be treated successfully with which immunotherapy combination," says Haanen. In the long term, other hospitals will also be able to submit patient material.

​From the three centers, the following scientist are heading up this project:

  • UMC Groningen: Prof. Liesbeth de Vries and Dr. Rudolf Fehrmann

  • Radboudumc: Prof. Carl Figdor and Prof. Koos van den Hoeven

  • Netherlands Cancer Institute: Prof. Ton Schumacher, Prof. John Haanen