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KWF awards over one million euro to Princess Máxima Center researchers

The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) has awarded two research projects from the Princess Máxima Center. The researchers receive over one million euro in total for research into the origin of leukemia and prevention of central line associated bloodstream infections.

The origin of leukemia

In adults time or aging is seen as the main risk factor of cancer. With every division of the cell, DNA mutations may occur. The mutations accumulate and the risk of cancer increases. Leukemia, however, occurs more often in children than in young adults, while their young cells are less damage by aging. The goal of Ruben van Boxtel is to figure out, with the KWF grant, which mechanisms cause cancer to occur in children.

To do this, Van Boxtel set himself and his team two goals. He aims to unravel which processes cause the mutations to arise that contribute to the origin of childhood cancer. Secondly, he will analyze in which phase of development the first mutations arise that ultimately lead to leukemia.

‘If we know what causes pediatric cancer, then we may be able to develop targeted treatment’, says Van Boxtel. ‘Possibly, we may even prevent the occurrence of leukemia in certain cases.’

Central line infections

A central lines directly bring medication into the bloodstream through the veins. These lines are indispensable in the treatment of children with cancer. Approximately 73 percent of children a central line is applied, and circa 30 percent of them suffers an infection. The suppressed immune system of the sick children makes them susceptible for infection and although in the Princess Máxima Center, care professionals follow all standard procedures carefully, this remains a frequently occurring problem.

Researchers in the Princess Máxima Center will, sponsored by KWF, investigate whether administration of an antimicrobial agent, in addition to the standardly given anticoagulant, will bring improvement. To test this, they will give over a period of 2,5 years administer the antimicrobial to over 230 children. The number of infection will be compared to the occurrence of infections in children who were treated according to the current protocol.

‘We aim to improve the quality of life’, says Marc Wijnen, professor oncological pediatric surgery and main applicant of this KWF grant.