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erlenmyer-research
Research group/lab

Chronic viral hepatitis and liver cancer

Studies on biomarkers and immune mechanisms involved in infections with hepatitis viruses and hepatocellular carcinoma

About our research group/lab

Our research

Translational immunological studies on chronic viral hepatitis

Our research is focused on immunology of chronic viral infections (HBV, HCV or HEV as well as HIV), and the long-term consequences of these infections, such as fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC).  Our interest is in unravelling 1) why immune responses are insufficient to clear the viruses in chronic patients; 2) the parameters that determine disease progression (e.g. fibrosis or liver cancer) in patients with chronic viral hepatitis, and 3) the mechanisms underlying the differences in efficacy of antiviral therapy

To achieve this, we use immuno-monitoring of patients at various disease stages and during standard-of-care and novel experimental antiviral therapy (in phase I/II clinical trials). Since hepatitis viruses replicate exclusively in the liver, we use the technique of fine-needle aspiration of the cells to samples the liver, a technique that we used in numerous research projects in the last decade.

Risk factors and biomarkers for early detection of HCC

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most frequent liver malignancy and is the second most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Diagnosis of HCC by imaging is often at a late stage of disease when treatment options are limited. To improve early diagnosis of HCC and define mechanisms of carcinogenesis, our research aims to identify risk factors and  biomarkers associated with HCC development.

The project is funded by the EU Horizon2020 program, and  coordinated by the Erasmus MC “ESCALON”( European-Latin American network for the assessment of biomarkers to predict and diagnose hepatobiliary malignancies and characterization of risk factors for cancer development). More information can be found at: www.escalon.eu

Coordinators: André Boonstra and José Debes

Beneficiaries from: 6 Latin American countries (Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru), 4 EU countries (Germany, UK, Spain, Netherlands) and Canada.

Systems biology of blood and liver to study viral hepatitis

Our research group examines transcriptomics, gene polymorphisms, metabolomics, and proteomics to identify biomarkers that predict disease progression and the response to antiviral therapy of individual patients chronically infected with HBV, HCV, HEV and HIV.

The transcriptomes of peripheral blood, liver/isolated hepatocytes, and purified immune cells (B cell, T cell, NK cell, monocytes) obtained from patients infected with HBV, HCV, or HIV are profiled by microarray, bulk RNA-seq and single cell RNA-Seq. The transcriptomes are evaluated in detail using analyses for individual genes and gene sets/modules to understand molecular factors underlying the disease progression, differential responses to therapeutic intervention, and predictive values of gene expression.

Key Publications

For key publications we refer to www.viralhepatitis.nl

Our team

André Boonstra, PhD, principal investigator
José Debes, MD PhD, principal investigator
Anthonie Groothuismink, research technician
Gertine van Oord, research technician
Noé Rico Montanari, MSc, PhD student
Judith Verhagen, PhD, project manager
Zgjim Osmani, PhD student
Boris Beudeker, MD PhD student
Jeffrey Oliveira, research technician
Arda Karaoğlu, MD, PhD student
Siyu Fu, MD, PhD student