Our website uses cookies. We use cookies to remember settings and to help provide you with the best experience we can. We also use cookies to continuously improve our website by compiling visitor statistics. Read more about cookies

Knowledge sharing on blood cancer during ASH 2022 conference

Researchers from the Princess Máxima Center will present their scientific findings again this year at the world's largest conference on blood cancer. Three researchers will receive an ASH Abstract Achievement Award for the research they present at the conference. Every year, thousands of researchers, physicians and specialists in the field of blood diseases, including leukemia, come together at the American Society for Hematology (ASH) conference.
The annual ASH conference is one of the largest and most important conferences in hematology. Thousands of peers gather from Dec. 10 to 13 to share the latest scientific developments. This year, Prof. dr. Rob Pieters, medical director and pediatric oncologist, and Demi de Winter, clinical researcher, will present their findings in plenary to the general public. Over 15 Máxima researchers will present their work using a poster. Three Máxima researchers received an ASH Abstract Achievement Award for this from a jury consisting of peers. Nienke van Engelen presents one of the cases she researched during a workshop.

ASH Abstract Achievement Awards

Why does leukemia return, personalized therapy for an aggressive form of leukemia in infants and measuring bone density and fractures in children cured of leukemia; the research of the three winners of an ASH award shows the breadth of research at the Máxima Center.

Eline Bertrums, clinical researcher in the van Boxtel group, won an award for her poster on preclinical research into acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a form of blood cancer diagnosed in 25 children in the Netherlands each year. She talks about the research she shared through her poster, 'Despite more and more children being cured of AML, the disease returns in about 30% of these children. By reading the DNA of the leukemia cells of children treated at the Máxima, we call this sequencing, I want to better understand how AML arises. We study changes in the DNA, also called mutations, of the leukemia cells and different 'healthy' blood cells. In this way, we try to find out what processes cause these mutations, and whether they are different in different forms of AML. If we better understand these causes, we can hopefully contribute to better diagnosis and treatment of AML in the future.'

Trisha Tee, PhD student in the van Leeuwen group, is looking into how to increase the survival rate of children younger than one year old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Trisha says, 'Although the majority of children with ALL are cured, the outlook is poor for infants remains poor. Three-quarters of these babies have abnormalities in the MLL gene. I have found a potential metabolic therapy that, in combination with existing treatments, counteracts this aggressive form of cancer. I think this award is a very nice recognition of all the hard work from our team and, in addition, I hope it will also further stimulate peer interest in the potential of metabolic therapies through nutrition.'

Demi de Winter, clinical researcher in the van den Heuvel-Eibrink group, will receive a second award during the ASH for the research she conducted with her colleague Jenneke van Atteveld. Demi says: 'Children who have recovered from (blood)cancer have a significantly increased risk of developing bone fractures. This appears to be linked to reduced bone density, especially of the vertebrae in the lower back. We found several risk factors that influence the development of reduced bone density and fractures, such as hormonal and, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies. These deficiencies can be supplemented with supplements that may allow us to improve the quality of life of these survivors.'

ASH Workshop

In addition to numerous presentations, ASH attendees can also participate in workshops to broaden their knowledge and discuss with each other in smaller company. Nienke van Engelen, PhD student in the Kuiper group, is one of the speakers at a workshop on the genetic predisposition to leukemia and bone marrow failure. She says, 'My research focuses on finding new genes in the DNA that are linked to a genetic predisposition to leukemia. I do this by analyzing the DNA of children with leukemia in whom genetic predisposition is suspected. If we find such a hitherto unknown gene, we can use it, for example, in screening and early detection of the predisposition to leukemia in, for example, relatives of the child.'

Because of the smaller set-up, there is room for interaction during the workshop. Nienke van Engelen looks forward to it: 'Participation in this workshop is a great opportunity to engage in conversation with peers. This is not only very instructive, but also a great opportunity to further expand my scientific network. Thanks to knowledge sharing and collaboration we move pediatric cancer research forward.'