Added Value

Biomedical research has become ‘big science’ in the last decade, requiring collaborative networks of scientists from many different disciplines as well as large investments in equipment and infrastructure. brings together international experts on key technologies in the field, including DNA sequence analysis, expression profiling, proteomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, microscopy and functional screening; international experts on the biology of cancer; and internationally recognized clinicians that can bridge the gap between basic science and the clinic.

Living biobank
Unique to this consortium is the development of a ‘living’ biobank from primary tumors to study responses to cancer drugs. Current ‘in vitro’ cancer research in the laboratory typically involves the use of cancer-derived cell lines, which are widely known to have inherent limitations. Cancer research is therefore invariably complemented with experiments in (genetically modified) mice and other animal species. The Clevers lab has recently shown that it is possible to establish long-term cultures from a variety of adult mouse and human primary tissues and cancers (‘organoids’), which can be expanded for many months in vitro without genetic or phenotypic changes.

This ‘living biobank’ from primary human tumors and surrounding healthy tissue allows the integration of whole genome-sequence data with a variety of functional analyses of the tumor cells in vitro (chemotherapy sensitivity/resistance, signaling pathway analysis, cell cycle/DNA repair analyses, etc). These results can be directly correlated with patient outcome. We believe that such Primary Cancer Organoid Cultures (PCOCs) will become invaluable tools for the development of novel drugs, and for innovative personalized medicine strategies. Primary tumor material, available from the clinical trials coordinated by the Centre for Personalized Cancer Treatment (CPCT) provide a major source of tissue for the 3D PCOC models. This has the distinct advantage that within the CPCT genomic sequence information is available, as well as the patient’s response to (combinations of) targeted cancer drugs.

In our consortium we have brought together internationally well-established cancer research groups and very promising junior groups in the Netherlands, with a common mission that should lead to a significantly improved life expectancy and quality of life for cancer patients. Although most of the groups receive considerable funding for individual projects and for infrastructure, funds from the Gravitation program are used to unleash the combined knowledge, expertise and infrastructure for this collaborative effort and to have a vehicle with which to rapidly and collectively respond to new developments.

In the consortium, we share and have invested in expensive equipment, such as a platforms for quantifying growth of cells in the 3D organoid cultures, deep tissue multiphoton microscopy, laser scanning microscopy, next generation sequencing, and protein production and characterization. This will have an impact beyond the individual participating groups and will benefit the entire community of cancer researchers in the participating institutes.

We anticipate that will have a significant impact on our understanding of the cancer process and on utilizing that knowledge for a better treatment of the individual patient. As the cancer problem will not be solved by an individual group or by a single country, international collaborations will remain vital to ultimately bring cancer under control. We anticipate that the, including our “living biobank”, will be a very attractive partner in such international collaborations.


18 Nov 2016

Gogola wins CGC poster award

On November 18th, Ewa Gogola (NKI) was awarded with the CGC poster award 2016. Eva received the award during the KIT meeting on Genomic Instability in Cancer for her poster entitled 'Loss of PARG causes PARP inhibitor resistance in BRCA2-deficient mouse mammary tumors'.

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03 Apr 2016 at Science in the city

You can find researchers at Utrecht's Culturele Zondag. Perform some experiments yourself at the Domplein or listen to some lectures at the Winkel van Sinkel

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11 Mar 2016

Peter Friedl wins ESMI award participant Peter Friedl has been awarded with the 2016 Award of the European Society for Molecular Imaging          

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31 May - 02 Jun 2017

Workshop: Functional Analysis of Sequence Variants in Hereditary Breast- and Ovarian Cancer Genes

Improving Genetic Counseling and Cancer Treatment Strategies

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07 Apr 2017

DNA-lab day 2017

We host a DNA-lab day for high school teachers in the Reehorst, Ede together with other mobile DNA labs. During the day teachers can learn about new developments in DNA technology. Teachers can participate in workshops and practicals developed for high school students about DNA technology and societal challenges (Dutch only).

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13 Jan 2017

Annual meeting CGC 2017

All researchers are welcome, however registration is required.

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