Six LUMC research projects receive funding from ZonMw Open Competition

10 June 2021• NEWSITEM

Six research projects that are (partly) carried out at Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) have each received a grant of up to 750,000 euros from the ZonMw Open Competition programme. In Leiden, the money will be used, among other things, for research into tumour defence with tissue t-cells and for a study into the influence of genes as the biological basis for a long and healthy life.

All LUMC research projects that receive funding from the ZonMw programme are highlighted below.

Long live the family: genes and behaviour as the biological basis for a long and healthy life

Life expectancy is increasing worldwide, but the gains in healthy life years are lagging behind. Long-living families tracked in Dutch databases often live into old age free of disease. In this project, researchers Prof. Dr. Eline Slagboom (LUMC), Prof. Dr. Dorret Boomsma (Vrije Universiteit), Prof. Dr. Monique Verschuren (RIVM) and Dr. Marian Beekman (LUMC) are investigating the relationship between social, behavioural and genetic mechanisms that protect against chronic age-related diseases and promote healthy ageing. Want to know more about this research? Then check out Eline Slagboom's pep-talk on living a long and healthy life.

Ready for new T: tumour defence with tissue T cells

Cancer is made up of more than tumour cells; it is also infiltrated by normal cells of the body, such as immune cells. Immune therapy activates immune cells that subsequently inhibit tumour growth. In this project, Prof. Dr. Thorbald van Hall (LUMC) and Dr. Klaas van Gisbergen (Amsterdam UMC) investigate the role of new immune cells: tissue T cells.

Preventing metastasis of malignant cancer cells and making them susceptible to therapy again

Most cancer patients die from malignant metastases, or because they have become insensitive to chemotherapy. In this project, Prof Peter Ten Dijke (LUMC), Dr Pouyan Boukany (TU Delft), Prof John Martens (Erasmus MC) and Prof Stefan Sleijfer (Erasmus MC) aim to repurpose existing drugs in that they selectively change the behaviour of aggressive cancer cells into non-invasive and therapy-sensitive cancer cells or into benign fat cells.

Looking for the origin of our autonomic nervous system

The hypothalamus is a brain region at the bottom of the brain that regulates our physiology through hormones and the autonomic nervous system. The nerve cells that control hormone release have long been known. Prof. Andries Kalsbeek (Amsterdam UMC), Prof. Onno Meijer, Dr Ahmed Mahfouz (LUMC), Dr Chun-Xia Yi (Amsterdam UMC) and Prof. Eric Fliers (Amsterdam UMC) will use the latest microscopes and molecular techniques to detect and characterise the nerve cells that control the autonomic nervous system for the first time.

Stress in insulin-producing cells investigated in person

In Type 1 diabetes the islets of Langerhans are destroyed, the reason why is not known. Using a special colour microscope, Dr Ben Giepmans (UMC Groningen), Dr Elizabeth Carroll (TU Delft) and Dr Arnaud Zaldumbide (LUMC) are studying in living fish larvae whether these islets, surrounded by pancreatic juice-producing cells, become stressed by their neighbours. This may be the first step that explains their eventual destruction.

The bicarbonate screen - a protective mechanism for liver and bile ducts as well as other human organs

Patients with immune-mediated cholestatic and genetic liver diseases suffer not only from consequences of liver insufficiency, but also liver-independent complaints. Prof. Ulrich Beuers (Amsterdam UMC) and Prof. Ton Rabelink (LUMC) have described bicarbonate secretion as a protective mechanism for liver and bile ducts. They want to further characterise the 'bicarbonate screen' in a multidisciplinary way and manipulate it therapeutically in liver, bile ducts and other organs that cause complaints in these patients.

Want to know more about all the awarded projects? Then look at the complete overview on the ZonMw website.

Stay informed on the latest news of the Leiden University Medical Center, and sign up for our biweekly newsletter or subscribe to our LUMC Magazine.