KWF announces grant for new cancer research projects at the LUMC

13 april 2021• NIEUWSBERICHT

Despite significant research disruptions caused by the global pandemic, KWF Kankerbestrijding has ensured oncological progress remains uninterrupted. A total of 30 million euros has been fundraised for cancer research in the Netherlands. Eight projects have been awarded at the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC).

Approximately 3.5 million euros have been granted to the LUMC. Awarded projects will initiate in 2021, and cover a variety of research themes: from proton therapy for eye melanomas to care for patients with a foreign background, and from tissue-associated memory in the defence against tumours to a novel potent anti-cancer immunotherapy. 

Proton therapy for melanomas

As Head of the Radiation-Oncology Department at the LUMC, Professor Coen Rasch explains: “we want to become the leading centre for ocular melanoma treatment within 4 years”. Healthcare for this type of rare tumour is provided centrally within the Leiden and Rotterdam regions. Whereas the standard procedure to treat ocular melanomas consisted of removing the entire eye in the past, modern alternatives include radiation therapy and techniques that utilize precision irradiation with protons (e.g: in Delft). However, these can have different side effects with the possibility of returning tumours or metastases, and comparative studies between eye removal and proton techniques are still limited. According to Rasch: “Proton therapy opens new possibilities, but these possibilities come with choices that must be carefully considered by patients”. In collaboration with the Opthalmology and Biomedical Data Sciences Departments at the LUMC, as well as the HollandPTC, Rasch’s project aims to better understand treatment outcomes and how to provide patients with the adequate support required during their decision-making process. 

Joint decision-making in healthcare

Involving patients in the decision-making process of cancer treatment is receiving increased attention. However, less is understood about sharing this joint process with patients from a migrant background. Previous research has indicated that physicians and patients may interpret differences in language, cultural beliefs and health literacy as barriers. Consequently, shared decision-making among foreign groups of patients falls behind, with care workers acknowledging that there is room for improvement. Professor Anne Stiggelbout, from the Department of Biomedical Data Sciences at the LUMC, is currently investigating how this process works, as well as what the expectations and wishes of patients and care providers are. The goal is to support both healthcare workers and patients in making joint decisions in the future. This project is funded by the proceeds of the Alpe d’HuZes which, despite having its race cancelled because of COVID-19, managed to raise more than 7 million euros. 

Additional funded projects

The KWF has also allocated funds for the research groups of Professor Thorbald van Hall (EUR 936.394,00), Doctor Els Verdegaal (EUR 275.013,00), Doctor Mirjam Heemskerk (EUR 627.433,80), Doctor Judith Kroep (EUR 977.083,70), Doctor Sylvie Noordermeer (EUR 756.971,00). Doctor Jeroen Buijs has also received a ‘Unique High-Risk Projects’ grant (EUR 121.345,45). More Information on awarded LUMC projects can be found in the grant spending overview of KWF

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