About our research group/lab
Brain metastasis of common cancer
This research line is dedicated to unravel molecular mechanisms that are involved in the passage of tumor cells through the blood-brain barrier. We discovered that interaction of T-lymphocytes with breast cancer cells results in expressional changes in the tumor cells enabling passage through the BBB. Currently, we are detailing the characteristics of the immune response involved. We expanded our investigations to lung cancer and melanomas in order to find out whether T-cells play a similar role in the formation of brain metastases in these tumor categories.
Glioma angiogenesis and glioma immune response
This research line is dedicated to unravelling the mechanisms that underlie the formation of new blood vessels in gliomas. Glial tumors are among the most vascularized tumors and it is therefore surprizing that anti-angiogenic therapies have not been successful so far. The processes of angiogenesis are not restricted to inducing vascular sprouting of existing blood vessels, but extend to vasculogenesis. We found that levels and particular subsets of endothelial precursor cells (EPCs) are present in the blood of glioma patients. Once the EPCs are in the brain, they interact with various other cells, among which immune cells. By discovering the specific EPC subtypes and their acting molecules we expect to find targets for renewed anti-angiogenic strategies for glioma patients.
Immunological and vascular aspects of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer's disease is histologically characterized by the accumulation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the latter strongly correlated with the progressive dementia. Although the cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, recent data point to association with vascular pathology and a role of the immune apparatus. In previous studies we found serum levels of the proteinase inhibitor Pregnancy Zone Protein (PZP), a proteinase inhibitor, to be predictive for the onset of Alzheimer's disease. This protein appeared to be present in senile plaques and microglial cells. In current projects we are further investigating this molecule and its specific actions in relation to Alzheimer's disease. We aim to find the role of the immune system in the onset of this devastating disease, and thereby provide input for therapeutic strategies. This research topic is carried out in close collaboration with the Proteomics Laboratory of the Department of Neurology of the Erasmus MC.
- Dr. D. Mustafa
- Drs R. Pedrosa
- Drs. K. Huizer
- Drs. C. Fevga
- Mr. M. van der Weiden