Prof. Jan van Hest receives funding for development of ovarian cancer treatment

In the TEMPEAT project (Temperature-responsive polypeptide nanocarriers for abdominal therapies), prof. Jan van Hest and partners aim to develop ovarian cancer treatment in the form of protein-based nanoparticles that carry drugs and light-sensitive molecules; this therapy aims to be a more effective alternative for chemotherapy. The funding from ERA-NET EuroNanoMed III enables them to hire 4 postdoctoral scientists.

In 75% of women, the first diagnosis of ovarian cancer is made at an advanced stage with the tumour already metastasised to the peritoneum. Once metastasised, response to chemotherapy is poor and therefore, fatal. There is an urgent need to develop more effective therapies for this type of cancer. In the TEMPEAT project the researchers aim to develop protein-based nanoparticles that carry anticancer drugs and light-sensitive molecules. They are furthermore decorated with homing devices (nanobodies) that can recognize the specific tumor cells. The particles are injected in the peritoneum and then irradiated with light, which leads to creation of oxygen radicals that kill selectively the cancer cells. Upon washing the peritoneum with a slightly cooled solution, the particles open up and release the anticancer drugs, killing the remaining cancer cells. Currently, this methodology has been demonstrated in vitro. Within this 3-year project, the step towards preclinical testing will be made. If successful, it is expected that clinical research will follow soon.

The main collaborators in the project are professor of bio-organic chemistry Jan van Hest, Department of Biomedical Engineering / Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, Eindhoven University of Technology and professor Gynaecological Oncology Leon Masuger, Radboudumc/Radboud University. Other partners include researchers from Radboudumc, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Université de Bordeaux, and Ablynx.

EuroNanoMed is a platform for funding agencies and ministries established since 2008. National and Regional research funding programmes join together with the goal of creating and funding collaborative research and innovation projects that can convert research in nanotechnology into practical gains in medicine. EuroNanoMed supports multidisciplinary and translational research and innovation projects that cover: Regenerative medicine, Diagnostics and Targeted delivery systems.