Dr. Julie Nonnekens received her MSc in Medical Biotechnology at Wageningen University, The Netherlands in 2009. She
obtained her PhD in cancer biology with the focus on DNA repair mechanisms at the University of Toulouse, France in 2013. Julie
is now Assistant Professor at the Department of Molecular Genetics and Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. Her
group is studying DNA damage repair mechanisms to better understand the underlying radiobiology of molecular radionuclide
therapy (MRT) in order to ultimately optimize anti-cancer treatment regimens. Julie has received several (young investigator)
awards and is principal investigator on various research grants and commercial collaborations. She is secretary of the
Netherlands Society of Radiobiology, chair of the European working group for radiobiology of molecular radionuclide therapy and
scientific committee member of the Dutch Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology.
Field(s) of expertise
Patients with metastasized cancers can be treated with molecular radionuclide therapies (MRT) during which radiolabeled compounds are targeted to the cancers. Once bound to the tumor cells, the radionuclides will induce DNA damage leading to cancer cell death during radioactive decay. Currently, more cancer patients are being treated with MRTs than ever before. However, it is clear that some patients are being over-treated (resulting in toxicity) or under-treated (no tumor regression). This indicates the clinical need for therapy improvement. The focus of our research is on the understanding of the radiobiology, i.e. of the biological effects of ionizing radiation of MRTs, with a specific focus on DNA damage response mechanisms. By using this knowledge, we can significantly contribute to increasing the effectiveness of MRTs by providing evidence in favor of one treatment method or regimen over another.
In order to answer our research questions, we are using a variety of models and tools. From 2D cultured cells and ex vivo cultured human tumor slices to xenografted mice. This broad range of models allows us to study different aspects of MRTs. We use several cellular assays, immunohistochemistry of human tumor tissue or mouse organs, confocal live-cell microscopy and small animal imaging (SPECT, MRI, optical).
Our focus areas are:
- Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) for neuroendocrine tumors. Researchers on this topic: Stefan Roobol, Danny Feijtel, Giulia Tamborino, Thom Reuvers, Nicole Verkaik.
- Radioligand therapy (RLT) for prostate cancer. Researchers on this topic: Eline Ruigrok, Nicole van Vliet.
Education and career
2009-2013 PhD University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier III, Toulouse, France
Zhang W, van Gent DC, Incrocci L, van Weerden WM, Nonnekens J. Review: Role of the DNA damage response in prostate cancer formation, progression and treatment. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2019 Jun 13. doi: 10.1038/s41391-019-0153-2.
Terry S, Nonnekens J, Aerts A, Baatout S, de Jong M, Cornelissen B, Pouget JP. Letter to the editor: Call to arms: need for radiobiology in molecular radionuclide therapy. EJNMMI. 2019 May 8. doi: 10.1007/s00259-019-04334-3.
Zhang W, van Weerden WM, de Ridder CMA, Erkens-Schulze S, Schönfeld E, Meijer TG, Kanaar R, van Gent DC, Nonnekens J. Ex vivo treatment of prostate tumor tissue recapitulates in vivo therapy response. Prostate. 2019 Mar;79(4):390-402. doi: 10.1002/pros.23745.
Nonnekens J#, Chatalic KLS#, Molkenboer-Kuenen JD, Beerens CEMT, Bruchertseifer F, Morgenstern A, Veldhoven-Zweistra J, Schottelius M, Wester HJ, van Gent DC, van Weerden WM, Boerman OC, De Jong M, Heskamp S. 213Bi-Labeled Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen-Targeting Agents Induce DNA Double-Strand Breaks in Prostate Cancer Xenografts. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2017 Mar;32(2):67-73. doi: 10.1089/cbr.2016.2155.
Nonnekens J, van Kranenburg M, Beerens CEMT, Suker M, Doukas M, van Eijck CHJ , De Jong M, van Gent DC. Potentiation of Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy by the PARP Inhibitor Olaparib. Theranostics 2016; 6(11):1821-1832.
Scholarships, grants, and awards
2020-2024 Erasmus MC - Fellowship (PI)
2019-2023 KWF Dutch Cancer Society - Young Investigator Grant (PI)
2017-2020 Daniel den Hoed Foundation - Fellowship (PI)
2017-2020 Medical Research Council UK - Research grant (co-investigator)
2017-2020 Investigator initiated commercial project (PI)
2017-2019 Erasmus University Rotterdam - Fellowship (PI)
2012-2013 Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale France - Fellowship (PI)