KWF Grant for research on expression of sugars for development of cancer medicines

Thomas Boltje, researcher from the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) of Radboud University, has received a KWF Grant of nearly 700.000 Euro for research on the expression of sugars aimed at drug development for cancer treatment. KWF Dutch Cancer Society is a nation-wide organization for cancer related work in the Netherlands. Through stimulation of dedicated scientific research, KWF intends to improve lives of cancer patients.

Worldwide 40% of the population are diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives. Immunotherapy is a revolutionary cancer therapy, supporting our own immune system in clearing cancer cells. Developing a new therapy based on targeting sugar molecules in cancer could strengthen this immunotherapy. Therefore, the study of sugars in biology (glycobiology) is an emerging field of interest for biomolecular and biomedical research. However, there is still much unknown in complex sugar structures on the cell surface.


Sugars on human cells regulate many biological processes, whereas aberrant expression of sugars is associated with diseases such as cancer. The expression of specific sugars on cancer cells enables the tumor to grow harder through their role in immune evasion, metastasis, proliferation, and resistance to current therapies. Preclinical model systems show that targeting these cancer-specific sugars potentially provide a new cancer therapy. Hence a better (fundamental) understanding of these sugars is important for developing new medicines. Preclinical mouse models for the selected cancer indications will be used to test the efficacy of new therapies targeting these complex sugars.


Synthetic Organic Chemistry

Thomas Boltje works in the Synthetic Organic Chemistry department. The group is part of IMM. They study and identifies important glycans involved in malignant transformations and pathogenic infection and they develop chemical tools. The Boltje group is part of the Synthetic Organic Chemistry group from prof. Floris Rutjes, which focuses on the design and synthesis of biologically relevant molecules and improve existing methods of synthesis.

More information?

For more information, please contact
Thomas Boltje: thomas.boltje [at]
IMM Communications: imm-communication [at]

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