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Research & Innovation

Read more about the cooperative Research and Innovation projects


Seaweed the solution for Alzheimer's disease?

In August 2018, the Board of NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences has awarded funding to an Open Technology Programme project of Monique Mulder. The project focuses on seaweed-based products to defeat Alzheimer's disease.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease and mechanisms underlying disease onset and progression remain poorly understood. Monique Mulder and colleagues previously found in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model that a specific seaweed can improve memory and can substantially reduce neuropathology without any side effects. Their data strongly suggests that the observed effects are mediated via compound(s) that stimulate brain lipid turnover. In the present project the potential of seaweed extracts in the prevention, retardation and treatment of Alzheimer's disease will be explored. If successful, these extracts can, beyond the scope of the project, be developed into foor supplements and nutraceuticals (e.g. drinks, spreads, bread, cereals or yoghurts) to fight Alzheimer's disease. A variety of stakeholders in the user committee (companies growing seaweeds, specialized in extraction technologies and in food) are highly interested in commercial exploitation of the extracts.

ZonMw funds healthcare  efficiency research into rib fractures

The Department of Trauma Surgery has received €340.000 from ZonMw to carry out a healthcare efficiency study into the treatment of multiple, single rib fractures. The research team is headed by trauma surgeon Dr. Mathieu Wijffels and research coordinator Dr. Esther van Lieshout. Currently, there are two treatment options for broken ribs: Let the ribs heal themselves with the support of breathing exercises and painkillers, or surgical securing of the ribs with plates and screws. The last option is often chosen when the patient has multiple fractures per rib, severely displaced ribs, or ribs that do not heal themselves, while the first is usually chosen for single-rib fractures. And while the first option may seem cheaper, it can entail an Intensive Care stay due to oxygen support or intubation.

FixCon needs to map out whether the surgical securing of the ribs with plates and screws is cheaper than the non-operative treatment, sometimes requiring oxygen support or intubation where the patient has to stay on the Intensive Care.
FixCon will map out and compare the costs of each type of treatment. The expectation is that operating adult patients with multiple single rib fractures will lead to a reduction in the number of pneumonias, a shorter hospital stay and less absenteeism, compared with non-surgery. But the Rotterdam research must show whether this is also the case.
In the autumn of 2018, patients in Erasmus MC and around ten other hospitals will be invited to participate in the study. The study results are expected after four years, in 2022. 


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Funding from the ZonMw Gender & Health knowledge program


The project OPTICARE-M/F: towards a sex and gender sensitive approach of cardiac rehabilitation, performs additional analyses on the OPTICARE database to evaluate the role of sex (biological) and gender (based on gender roles) differences in various types of cardiac rehabilitation.  

The current cardiac rehabilitation guidelines are mainly based on research performed in men. Previous studies, however, suggest that there is a gender gap: women seem to be in greater need of cardiac rehabilitation, but are less likely to adhere and benefit. More i n-depth and large-scale research on potential sex and/or gender differences in cardiac rehabilitation outcomes is warranted to further develop evidence based cardiac rehabilitation.

The project is granted for €49.741 and will last 12 months. It will be performed by a collaboration between Capri Hartrevalidatie, Erasmus MC Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Erasmus MC Department of Cardiology and Erasmus MC Department of Internal Medicine.

Salt-prof receives €2 million

Kidney-expert Prof Ewout Hoorn (Nefrology) has received a large grant from the Danish Novo Nordisk Foundation to seek new treatments for chronic kidney damage. Hoorn shares this grant with Danish collaborator Prof. Robert Fenton. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is funded by the pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.

One out of every 10 Netherlanders has chronic kidney damage, which can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or transplantation. Profs. Hoorn and Fenton will explore novel medicines designed to target specific prostaglandin receptors on kidney cells. Prostaglandins can influence important functions of the kidney cells, such as water and salt absorption, which makes them a good target for novel medicines. The researchers hope to find drugs which will block the harmful effects of prostaglandins on the kidney cells, while allowing positive influences.

Prof. Hoorn has previously explored the effect of the ‘good salt’ – potassium – on kidney damage with a €1.25 million grant from the Dutch Kidney Foundation. 

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Regional collaboration breast cancer

Eight hospitals in the region Southwest Netherlands, including Erasmus MC, have signed a formal agreement to collaborate in improving care for breast cancer victims. The hospitals will collect and store data about breast cancer patients in a transparent and uniform manner, which will allow health care personnel to share and compare information. This will allow breast cancer patients and their physicians to make more informed decisions about the care of each individual patient.

The collaboration has been set up under the auspices of the Oncology Network South West and will use the data-handling facilities of the non-profit organization Dutch Hospital Data, a daughter of the Netherlands Federation of Hospitals and the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centers. The standard protocol for data collection is based on the protocol established by the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement.

The new system makes it easier to set up or modify a personal treatment plan, with care which is appropriate for the person rather than for the affliction. This novel way of working will be introduced in September 2018. At the end of 2018, a handbook and e-learning modules will be made available.

This project was made possible by grants from the Citrien Fund and the Coolsingel Foundation.

The Dutch Cancer Society grants € 2.1 million to new cancer research at Erasmus MC

Brain tumors
Neurosurgeon Dr Arnaud Vincent will investigate whether glioblastomas (aggressive brain tumors) can best be removed under general anesthesia or during 'waking brain surgery'. With a waking brain surgery, the patient is conscious. The advantage is that the surgeon can stimulate the brain during the operation to see what the function of that brain area is. This way he knows which tissue he can cut away with impunity. The SAFE trial should show whether the waking brain operation provides a better prognosis and a higher quality of life with less neurological outage.

Proton therapy
With proton therapy, tumors can be irradiated more effectively than with conventional irradiation with photons. This leads to less damage to healthy tissue. A second advantage is that the therapy enables treatment of tumors in difficult places. In the PEARL study by Prof. Mischa Hoogeman, guidelines will bedeveloped to apply proton therapy as effectively as possible. It will be investigated how the dose administered is related to the side effects and how these can be kept to a minimum.


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ms stichting

Two grants for MS research Erasmus MC

In the spring of 2018 Stichting MS Research granted two projects of Erasmus MC:

  • " In the MS ORIGINS project Rinze Neuteboom and colleagues investigate the influence of environmental and genetic MS risk factors on brain development in healthy children in the Generation R study. The research is sponsored with € 264,963 for 4 years."
  • " Rogier Hintzen and Georges Verjans will investigate in their project what T cells in the central nervous system of MS patients recognize, what functions these immune cells perform and how this causes the damage seen in MS patients. The research is sponsored with € 265,000 for 3 years.

ZonMW -Top Grant

Developmental disorders of the brain cause intellectual disability, autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. The cause often remains unknown, but hereditary factors play an important role. Over the years, Niels Galjart's research group has accumulated knowledge in detecting and analyzing the genetic causes of developmental disorders of the cerebral cortex. The group has found a new type of hereditary disorder that causes severe microcephaly in some families - this is a deviation from the central nervous system where the skull size is too small. The gene involved codes for an enzyme that converts certain fats in the cell. We know that this enzyme is also important for cell division. However, relatively little is known about the interaction between fat substances and cell division. With this new research project Microtubule-lipid crosstalk during neuronal cytokinesis the group aims to better understand the function of this enzyme in cell division and brain development. The ultimate aim of the research is improving diagnostics, providing hereditary advice and identifying potential therapy.

Click here for more information

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NWO - National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure

NWO has awarded funding to ten proposals in the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure. The total amount granted is 138 million euros. The BioSafety Level 3 (BSL3) facility of the Erasmus MC will receive 4.75 million euros the facilities for top research into infectious diseases. The Erasmus MC's proteomics facility is a partner in the Netherlands X-omics (pronounced as cross-omics) Initiative that has been granted 17.3 million euros.
Funds for the National Roadmap Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure make it possible to build or modernize top research facilities with an international allure. These facilities have the highest priority for science and offer Dutch researchers access to first-class national and sometimes international scientific infrastructure.

For more information, see the joint press release from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and the science organization NWO .


Horizon 2020 - VISAGE

The VISible Attributes Through GEnomics - VISAGE - Consortium aims to overcome the general limitation of current forensic DNA analysis by broadening forensic DNA evidence towards constructing composite sketches of unknown perpetrators from as many biological traces and sources and as fast as possible within current legal frameworks and ethical guidelines. Prof. Manfred Kayser is leading the project.


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 ZonMW and Thorax Foundation

The research group Interstitial Lung Diseases is researching how home-monitoring can improve the quality of life for people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The leader of the project is dr. Marlies Wijsenbeek, working with the MUMC, LUMC, St. Antionius ziekenhuis, the OLVG, the Zuyderland hospital, CuraVista bv and the pulmonary fibrosis patient-association.  The research is sponsored by ZonMW (€258.000) and the Thorax Foundation (€70.000).

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