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Research & Innovation

Read more about the cooperative Research and Innovation projects

 The NutriPROGRAM consortium coordinated by Dr. Janine Felix has been granted €1.4 million by the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life
Assistant professor Janine Felix and her colleagues will investigate the relationship between maternal and child diet, and health in later life. This project is a collaboration of the Department of Pediatrics in the Generation R Study and research groups from e.g. The Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.

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Two Erasmus MC Open Technology programme projects awarded

Vascular Signature Mapping of Brain Tumor Genotypes
For the diagnosis and optimal management of primary brain tumors brain surgery is required to obtain tumor tissue for analysis. In this project, Marion Smits and colleagues from Erasmus MC and LUMC join forces with two of the main MRI scanner vendors (GE, Philips) to address the thus far unmet need to characterize brain tumors in such detail, that it will eventually no longer be necessary for patients to undergo brain surgery solely to obtain tissue for diagnosis. The project will deliver 1. Novel diagnostic MRI technology to establish the tumor genotype non-invasively, and 2. computer-aided diagnostic approach to classify the tumor automatically. By working closely together with the scanner vendors as well as Quantib BV, an SME specialized in bringing diagnostic markers to the consumer market, the opportunity to valorize the outcome of the research project is maximized.

Three-dimensional Ultrasound Imaging Through Compressive Spatial Coding (TOUCAN)
3D ultrasound is a very powerful imaging technique, but the equipment is complex and expensive. Hans Bosch and colleagues will develop smart compressive coding masks to make 3D ultrasound imaging cheap and widely applicable. This will lead to new applications where wearable ultrasound sensors can be used to monitor organs such as the carotid artery and the brain in both humans and animals for long periods of time.

ZonMW -Top Grant: GABAergic inhibition in tinnitus: linking human and animal studies

Tinnitus is a common and potentially disabling disorder in which a patient hears sound in the absence of an external source. Relatively frequently, it is associated with complaints such as insomnia, concentration disorders or depression and can thus have a significant negative impact on the quality of life. However, there is no treatment with which tinnitus can be cured. In this project, Gerard Borst and colleagues will investigate in animals and humans whether a reduced function of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the inferior colliculus (a brain nucleus involved in hearing) and the auditory cortex makes a substantial contribution to tinnitus. This research will lead to a better understanding of this common condition and may play a role in improving its treatment.

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EU funding for thyroid research

The ATHENA research project, in which the Erasmus MC Academic Center for Thyroid Diseases plays an important role, has been granted €6.5 million by the European Committee. The consortium studies the effects of hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment on the thyroid gland.
Thyroid hormone is crucial for normal brain development. It is known that small changes in thyroid hormone concentrations during pregnancy are related to a lower IQ and an increased risk of conditions such as autism and ADHD in the offspring. The research project, which is led by Brunei University in London, aims to develop new test methods that can capture the consequences of thyroid hormone disrupting chemicals on the developing brain.
"The Rotterdam Thyroid Center will receive nearly €800,000 for its research on how chemicals can block the transport of thyroid hormone across the placenta and into the fetal brain", says Prof. Robin Peeters, internist-endocrinologist. "In close collaboration with various scientists from Erasmus MC's Generation R study, we will also study which substances influence maternal thyroid function during pregnancy, and if and how this affects development of the child."
The project had a kick-off meeting this week followed by a meeting for scientists from the various EU funded research projects in this field on Thursday 31 January in Brussels.

Phospho-Norm - Too much or too little phosphorus and its consequences for health(y aging)
When phosphorus in our bodies is too low or too high, many organs are disturbed, leading to different diseases but also to affected healthy aging.  Bram van der Eerden and Carola Zillikens from Erasmus Medical Center and Kyowa Kirin Pharma will join forces to unravel the causes and consequences of disturbed phosphorus homeostasis. The Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) has granted the research application Phospho -Norm with € 919.910,- PPP-allowance.
In Phospho-Norm findings are brought together from fundamental studies and population- and patient-related studies. The fundamental studies will focus on the precise control of the most important regulator of phosphate homeostasis, fibroblast growth factor 23. Furthermore, they will try to identify so-called phosphate sensors, that can 'sense' the phosphorus concentration in our blood. These have not been found in humans yet. In large population studies, they will investigate the link between phosphorus levels in our blood and damaging consequences for various organs, such as kidney, heart, lung and skeleton.  Ultimately, the integrated knowledge on phosphorus will lead to improved care of patients with disturbed phosphorus metabolism, adaptation of clinical guidelines and revision of dietary guidelines on phosphorus intake but also labelling of phosphorus content on food products with the aim of improving health and healthy aging of the total population world-wide.




Marion Smits

The clinical value of perfusion MRI in primary and secondary brain tumour surveillance

Managing brain tumour treatment is hampered by the lack of ability to differentiate between high- and low-grade tumours as well as between tumour progression and non-progressive changes due to treatment (pseudoprogression). While this issue can be resolved using advanced imaging techniques (perfusion MRI), it is unclear it this is sufficiently cost-effective to merit widespread implementation.

In this project, Marion Smits and colleagues will assess and compare the cost-effectiveness of various strategies of clinical implementation of perfusion MRI for managing brain tumours, using a societal perspective. This project will provide the badly-needed evidence for national guidelines harmonising imaging strategies for brain tumour surveillance.

Large study into hepatobiliary cancer

André Boonstra and José Debes of the department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology have been awarded a Horizon 2020 grant of €3.5 million for an international study into cancer to the liver, the bile ducts and the gall bladder. Boonstra and Debes lead the European-South American Collaboration for Assessment of Liver Originated Neoplasia (ESCALON) aimed at improving early detection and diagnosis of hepatobiliary malignancies. These tumors represent a major cause of mortality globally and are uniquely aggressive in Latin America in relatively young people.
 Key factors related to the excessive mortality in of these tumors are the lack of reliable screening methords and the complexity of diagnosis, which requires advanced imaging technology and difficult-to-access tissue. These barriers are amplified by poor accessibility present in resource-limited regiosn, all of which leads to tumors being diagnosed at advanced stages in which curative therapy is not an option. Boonstra: "To overcome these barriers, we have proposed to validate immune-related markers in serum to predict liver cancer in South America and evaluate factors associated to early liver cancer development. Furthermore, we wish to define the utility of biomarkers in serum for diagnosis of tumors and determine genetic and infectious factors that increase the risk of cancer. We will emphatically compare the situation in Europe with the Latin America in our research", says Boonstra.
Immunologist Dr. André Boonstra conducts research on viral hepatitis infections. Dr. José Debes has a joint appointment as a hepatologist and researcher at Erasmus MC and the University of Minnesota. Within Erasmus MC, the study is conducted in close collaboration with the departments of Surgery and Public Health. Partners of the consortium are from five countries in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador), four EU countries (Germany, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom) and Canada.




5 Erasmus MC researchers have received funding from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) for their research projects

Five Erasmus MC researchers have received funding totaling €2,243,938.13 from the Dutch Cancer Society for their research projects. The happy recipients are Dr. Bas Groot Koerkamp (Dept. of Surgery), Dr. Agnes Jager (Dept. of Internal Oncology), Dr. Tessa Brabander (Dept. of Radiology & Nuclear Medicine), Dr. Reno Debets (Dept. of Internal Oncology) and Dr. Wilma Heemsbergen (Dept. of Radiotherapy). Their research projects will investigate: local chemotherapy in the liver, a sensitive blood test to measure whether anti-hormonal treatment will be successful in metastatic breast cancer, safety and side effects of 225Ac-PSMA in patients with advanced prostate cancer, T-cell co-stimulation to improve cancer immunotherapy, and safety of modern irradiation techniques with respect to second primary tumors following prostate cancer irradiation.

The mission of the Dutch Cancer Society is to combat cancer, improve survival, and improve patient’s quality of life. The Dutch Cancer Society invests in cancer research, since they believe that cancer rates can only be reduced by better understanding of the disease.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has awarded Kirsten Berk the Global Food Venture Award

As part of the Global Food Venture programme, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has awarded Kirsten Berk the Global Food Venture Award. The mission of EIT is to contribute to European innovation by nurturing entrepreneurial talent and supporting novel ideas. Kirsten Berk is a dietician and postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus MC and she has received €15,000 to develop an application to support a healthy life style programme for patients with type 2 diabetes.
EIT operates through Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) in different areas, amongst others Digital, Climate and Health. Erasmus MC is core partner of EIT Health (https://www.eithealth.eu/).


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The European Health Data & Evidence Network (EHDEN) has launched a new project for standardization of health data which will be led by Erasmus MC

The mission of this project is to provide a new paradigm for the discovery and analysis of health data in Europe, by building a large-scale, federated network of data sources that are standardized to a common data model. Erasmus MC will lead this European consortium, which consists of twenty-two partners, including academia, patient associations, regulatory authorities, small and medium-sized enterprises and pharmaceutical companies.
This project will run for five years and will harmonize clinical data and develop a 21st century ecosystem for real world health research in Europe. The IMI2 EHDEN project team is delighted to announce the launch of this new Innovative Medicines Initiative project (EHDEN) which will operate in Europe from 2018 until 2023.

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