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Research group/lab

Group Zwarthoff

Molecular Pathology

About our research group/lab

Our research

Molecular pathology of urinary bladder cancer

In the western world 1 in 25 men and 1 in 80 women will develop bladder cancer during their lifetimes. Bladder tumors present either as non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMI-BC, stage pTa, pT1) or as muscle-invasive carcinomas (MI-BC).

MI-BCs are treated by removal of the bladder and (neo) adjuvant chemotherapy. Despite treatment, up to 50% of patients with MIBC die of their disease and new therapies are eagerly awaited.

NMI-BC tumors are removed by transurethral resection (TUR). Seventy percent of these patients develop one or multiple recurrences during their lifetime. This necessitates long-term monitoring by cystoscopy. In approximately 5-20% of the patients the tumor will eventually progress and invade the detrusor muscle.

Research lines

1. Identification and validation of new targets for therapy for (minimally) invasive bladder tumors.

2. Early detection of (recurrent) tumors by identification of cancer-associated DNA changes in urine.

3. Identification and validation of biomarkers that predict progression

Key Publications


Collaboration Ellen Zwarthoff and MDxHealth

Exclusive license agreement

Recently the Zwarthoff group and MDxHealth signed an exclusive license agreement regarding the IP of methylation biomarkers for bladder cancer detection developed by the Zwarthoff group.

Based on the encouraging results from our pilot study (Van Kessel et al, Journal of Urology, on line) MDxHealth will sponsor a follow-up evaluation study aiming at validating the high sensitivity and specificity of the biomarkers for the detection of bladder cancer in patients presenting with hematuria.

Our team