Research agenda

Lines of research

I Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT)
a.To reduce graft-versus-host reactions and to improve graft-versus-leukemia of HSCT, attempts are made to improve the selection of HSC-donors. This is done by improving the method of HLA-typing with next-generation sequencing (NGS) The benefit of genetic testing for killer-inhibitory receptors (KIR) and potentially relevant strong polymorphic immune-receptors is also investigated.
b.To improve engraftment and thus clinical efficacy of HSCT, clinical studies are also carried out into the transplantation of donor lymphocyte infusions and mesenchymal stromal cells.
c.To counter the complications of HSCT and the associated conditioning, (pre)clinical research is carried out into the benefit and improvement of supportive care with cellular blood products, such as erythrocytes and platelets for the treatment of anemia and thrombocytopenia (see also the medical needs Anemia and Bleeding & Hemostasis), with immunoglobulins (see also Immune deficiency & aging) and granulocyte transfusions for the treatment of antibiotic-refractory infections.

II Immunotherapy

a. Research is carried out to improve antibody immune therapy against cancer in order to increase patients’ immunity against cancers. On the one hand this is done by improving the antibody effector functions by modification and glycosylation of proteins, and on the other by identification and targeting of relevant innate immune checkpoints and other factors that inhibit the immune system.
b. In order to improve cellular immunity and, especially, T cell immune therapy against cancer, research is carried out into various T cell subsets and their regulation. Relevant T cells with anti-cancer activity are either isolated from tumors, the tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), or are provided with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T cells). These are then tested in clinical trials. Research is also carried out into subsets of other T cells, such as Tregs and TRM (Tissue Resident Memory cells), and into the role of so-called myeloid suppressor cells. The clinical application of dendritic cells for the benefit of antigen presentation to T cells is also studied.

III Improvement of diagnosing malignancies in blood and bone marrow

Very specialised diagnostic methods have been developed in the Diagnostic Services division for the detection of minimal residual disease in blood and bone marrow. This is important for monitoring patients on the one hand, and quality control of the cellular preparations on the other. In recent years it has also become possible to trace malignancies in blood on the basis of cell-free DNA and/or RNA.

National Science Agenda cluster questions

The NSA cluster questions shown below are linked to the Sanquin research lines for the medical need Cancer:

34 In light of the changing population (aging, shrinking in some places and affected by migration), what is the sustainability of the welfare state? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
76 What are the consequences of chronic disorders, stress and handicaps, and how can humans handle these as well as possible? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
77 What is the contribution of non-genetic factors to personal characteristics and disease processes? Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
80 Can we understand the factors that play a role in the development and maintenance of incomprehensible protracted physical disorders and therefore treat these disorders better? Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
81 How will the knowledge of genetics play a role in the understanding of, screening for and treatment of (rare) illnesses? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
85 Every tumor is different: how can we understand the cancer disease well enough to be able to develop a treatment for every form of cancer? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
86 Intestinal diseases and especially the relationship between our intestinal flora and health: how can we influence the intestinal flora effectively? IIa, IIb
89 How can we understand and treat pulmonary diseases better? IIa, IIb
90 How do chronic renal diseases develop and how can they be diagnosed sooner and subsequently be treated on an individual basis? IIa, IIb
94 How do we make healthcare as qualitatively good as possible, yet keeping it affordable? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
95 How can healthcare be focused more on the uniqueness of a person, amongst others by making use of biomarkers? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
96 How can we obtain better diagnostics, better treatments and better vaccines for immunity disorders and infectious diseases? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
98 How can we convert breakthroughs in basic biomedical research better into the development of new drugs? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
99 Using a better understanding of life, how can we identify new targets for molecular therapy, antibiotics and antiviral drugs? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
100 Using (stem) cells and biomaterials, how can we promote the formation and recovery of tissues and organs? Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
101 Can we develop models of the human body and use smart technology for health, food and toxicities research while simultaneously reducing the use of experimental animals drastically? Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
102 How can we develop new medicines and therapies in order to remain as vigorous and healthy as possible? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
104 How do we develop minimally invasive techniques and interventions for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of patients? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
105 How can big data and technological innovation (e-health) contribute to healthcare? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
112 Big data: can we utilise big datasets and their gathering for the realisation of values, gaining insights and obtaining answers? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
135 How can we understand the properties, the functionalities and the interaction of molecules in living systems better and, for instance, in this way develop systems that are inspired by life? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
136 Cells are the building blocks of life. How do they work and what can they teach us about the processes of life? Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb
137 How does a fertilised egg develop into a complex organism with different specialised tissues and organs?  Ib, Ic, IIb