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Van der Weijden swims elfstedentocht for cancer research

Olympic champion Maarten van der Weijden dives into the Frysian waters at August 18th. In three days time, he will swim a route of 200 kilometers passing by eleven cities. He will swim this originally famous ice skating tour with one goal in mind; to collect money for cancer research.
The fight against cancer is dear to Van der Weijden. He survived acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Thankful for the treament he received, he wishes there would be a curative therapy for every patient. By finding sponsors and encouraging people to join him for a short swim, Van der Weijden collects money to support research into cancer. Together with patients and the Dutch Cancer Foundation (KWF) he selected eleven research projects.

The research of Dr. Patrick Kemmeren from the Princess Máxima Center is one the selected projects. Kemmeren studies the mutations that occur in tumorcells in children. By comparing the DNA profile of the tumorcells with the profile of healthy cells, he analyzes which mutations contribute to the development of cancer. He is not able to do this by hand, as the amount of data is enormous. With a computer he examines the DNA of circa 2,600 children who were prepared to donate their DNA to the University of Heidelberg and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Most often cancer does not develop because of one mutation in the DNA, but is the result of several abberations. Some mutations enhance, while others extinguish each other's effect. That information is crucial in order to understand how cancer originate, what goes awry in the cell and especially how we can target the cancer cells, says Kemmeren.

It is going to be a tough swim for Van der Weijden. He will be in the water for three days and two nights, with hardly any sleep. But Van der Weijden is fit and determined. You can support and join him in the water for 500 or 2000 meters. If you rather stay dry, you could financially support him or one of the other swimmers.