On the 24th of May, PhD student Milou van Driel received one of the poster prizes at the Intestinal Stem Cell – Niche Interactions in Health and Disease conference organized in Cancún. Her poster described her research on the effect of NOTUM inhibitor caffeine on Intestinal Stem Cell Dynamics.
The ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after completing their PhD, and a scientific track record showing great promise.
“This ERC grant is a recognition of everybody in the laboratory as my research is very much team effort. It allows us to continue doing ground-breaking multidisciplinary research with the aim to improve treatment for cancer patients in the future.” says Louis Vermeulen.
“Previous research from my laboratory showed that bowel cancer is in fact a collection of different diseases. These so-called subtypes differ in the clinical presentation, the response to therapies and the prognosis of the patients. Our research is aimed at unravelling the molecular underpinning of these differences” he adds.
In the current project, Vermeulen and his team will focus on the subtype with the poorest disease outcome and seek to elucidate which signals drive the growth in these cancers. Although in most bowel cancers the environment is a key factor in promoting tumor growth, preliminary evidence suggests that this aggressive subtype is independent of the environment and the cancer cells found ways to mimic supporting cells. This provides a promising new target for therapies.
The Vici grant targets highly experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative lines of research, and to act as coaches for young researchers.
Outcompeting Cancer – Prevention is better than cure
Cell competition plays an important role in cancer initiation. The focus of this project is to better understand and manipulate cell competition in the earliest stage of cancer development, to be able to prevent the disease. Future patient care of heritable cancer syndromes can be shifted from treatment to prevention.
The Vermeulen lab published a paper in Nature! The publication by Sanne van Neerven et al. shows that Apc-mutant cells act as supercompetitors in intestinal tumour initiation:
Apc-mutant cells act as supercompetitors in intestinal tumour initiation – PubMed (nih.gov)
A new paper of our group, led by Dr. Daniël Miedema, is published in Nature Communications. The paper shows that chromosomal copy number heterogeneity predicts survival rates across cancers.