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Flanders' breakthrough research in lymph node cancer

Researchers from the university hospital UZ Leuven in Flanders, together with KU Leuven, one of the region’s universities, have taken a major step forward in the search for an effective treatment for lymphoma. Next step: human trials. 

The main investigators, from left to right: postdoc Marlies Vanden Bempt, dr. Koen Debackere, prof. dr. Daan Dierickx and prof. Jan Cools.

A better understanding

T-cell lymphoma is a rare type of lymph node cancer in which the white blood cells are impaired. This aggressive form of cancer is very difficult to treat with current medical knowledge. Yet, by examining the RNA of 55 patients, Leuven researchers discovered a new genetic error that could be the cause of this rare disease. 

We discovered one of the most frequent gene fusions ever in T-cell lymphoma, which indicates that this is an exceptionally strong driver of the disease.

Prof. Dr. Daan Dierickx
hematologist at UZ Leuven

Successful treatment in mice

It’s a hopeful discovery that could help advance the search for new and more effective treatment options. Currently, there’s already a suitable drug available that specifically acts on this target. Prof. Dr. Daan Dierickx: “By targeting the same genetic anomaly in lab animals, the drug successfully stopped the growth of the ill T-cells.”

A small step for human testing

The next step is to verify whether the results obtained in animal trials accurately reflect the outcome in humans. This will require additional research. According to Prof. Dr. Dierickx, having the data accessible from existing clinical trials for other hematological disorders is a major advantage. “It will make the step towards use in a clinical setting a lot smaller.”

Discover Flanders' life sciences & health ecosystem

UZ Leuven and KU Leuven are just a few of the many institutions that make Flanders’ business and research ecosystem for life sciences & health so successful. Want to unravel this ecosystem in a virtual yet interactive way? Head to the Flanders360 platform and discover 300+ successful companies, universities, R&D centers, incubators and other players active in Flanders’ life sciences & health industry.

Alternatively, check out our industry overview to learn more about the available tax, legal and other incentives for establishing your life sciences & health hub in Flanders.

More info

UZ Leuven
Reported by
press release UZ Leuven
26 September 2022

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