11 Million for research into cancer and T-cells

Monday 14 Mar 16


Sine Reker Hadrup
Head of Sections, Professor
DTU Health Tech
+45 35 88 62 90

About the project

Project title: Next-generation Detection of Antigen Responsive T-cells (nextDART)

Associate Professor Sine Reker Hadrup has received DKK 11 million in a so-called Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

The ERC provides grants for ground-breaking research projects of scientific excellence within all research areas and topics. Talented researchers from all over the world can obtain funding to conduct excellent research of the highest scientific quality in Europe.

Associate Professor Sine Reker Hadrup from DTU Vet receives DKK 11 million in an ERC Starting Grant where she will be developing new technology that can enable our own immune system to fight cancer diseases.

Every day, our immune system is fighting penetrating viruses and harmful bacteria, and recent years have seen a number of breakthroughs that have made it possible to also treat cancer patients by boosting their immune system.

Some types of white blood cells, the so-called T-cells, are actually able to recognize and kill cancer cells, just like they kill virally infected cells. And even though cancer cell defence mechanisms disable T-cells in the body, you can, in combination with medicine inhibiting the cancer cell defense, activate the T-cells, so that they target and kill the cancer cells.

By proliferating a patient’s own body T-cells in the laboratory and returning them to the body, people can be cured of their cancer. But the treatment is still far from effective in all patients. And it also extremely expensive, explains Sine Reker Hadrup:

“We would like to develop targeted immunotherapeutic strategies, where we can get our immune system to attack the cancerous cells, but our knowledge of T-cells is, unfortunately, very limited. There are around 100 million different T-cells patrolling our body, but our current technologies for examining how they recognize cancer cells are very limited. Thus, it is almost impossible to map precisely how the T-cells of the immune system recognize cancer cells in a given patient. So we are very far from having a complete picture of how we can truly exploit T-cells in the fight against cancer.”

Sine Reker Hadrup has therefore just received DKK 11 million from the European Research Council to conduct research in a new technology she has developed, and which has the potential to detect immunoreactivity against more than 1,000 components on the surface of cancer cells. This gives us a better tool for identifying the specific T-cells that are sensitive to cancer cells, and understand how we can use them for new treatment strategies.

“The technology may ultimately make it possible to predict the immune system’s ability to recognize cancer cells, and thereby change our understanding of immunotherapy and lead to huge progress in cancer treatment,” explains Sine Reker Hadrup, and enphasizes that the technology can also be used in connection with other autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and sclerosis.

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