Dr. Thomas Boltje teaching in lab
Dr. Thomas Boltje teaching in lab

KWF Proof of Concept Grant for Clinical Development of Anticancer Drugs

Thomas Boltje, a researcher at Synthetic Organic Chemistry, has received a 150,000 euro grant from the KWF for his research on inhibiting specific sugar molecules in cancer. These inhibitors may help enhance immunotherapy. With the KWF grant, Boltje can take the next step towards a clinical application of the inhibitors.

Sugars on human cells regulate various biological processes. However, when these sugars are expressed abnormally, this can be linked to diseases such as cancer. Specific sugars on cancer cells can help the tumor grow faster by influencing immune evasion, metastasis, proliferation, and resistance to treatments.


Immunotherapy is a revolutionary cancer treatment that supports the body's immune system in targeting cancer cells. While this strategy has helped many people, it is effective long-term in less than half of cases. Developing a new therapy based on inhibiting specific sugar molecules in cancer could potentially change this.
Boltje: "Certain sugar molecules can help cancer cells evade the immune system, preventing their elimination. We have developed inhibitors that prevent these sugar molecules from aiding tumors. We hope these inhibitors will improve immunotherapy so that it works long-term for more individuals."

Clinical Application 

With the KWF grant, Boltje can take the next steps towards translating and implementing the inhibitors in practice. Boltje: "The goal of this project is to create a clear clinical development plan for the inhibitors. Additionally, we aim to find investors and partners to further develop the inhibitors into a medication, potentially offering a new treatment approach for cancer patients."

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Health & Healthcare