Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in the western world. Research exploring biomarkers and their possible role in early lung cancer detection and prediction of response to novel treatment modalities is important to prevent and fight this cancer. Our research involves aspects focusing on:

(I) Early detection of lung cancer

Detection of lung cancer at an early, treatable stage, may confer better prognosis and decrease mortality rates. Early detection may possibly be performed by high resolution computer tomography (HRCT), autofluorescent bronchoscopy (AFB) and/or molecular biomarker analysis in sputum and/or blood. In this research line, biomarker discovery is performed along the broad spectrum of histological types of lung cancer, including small cell lung cancer, adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and carcinoids. We use several approaches, including genome-wide chromosomal profiling of clinically annotated specimens from lung cancer patients and at risk subjects, to identify biomarkers based on genetic and epigenetic events, for early lung cancer detection. Further verification and validation steps are performed with the aid of large biobanks of tissue and sputum specimens. The ultimate goal of this research line is the development of molecular tests for early detection of lung cancer, applicable to tissue and ideally to less invasive material like sputum or blood.

(II) Tumour profiling and guiding treatment with biomarkers

By molecular tumor profiling it is likely that novel targets for molecular therapy will emerge that can improve personalized therapeutic modalities and likely the prognosis of patients with lung cancer. In addition, biomarkers may be discovered that allow selecting patients who will benefit from such treatment. The ultimate goal of this research line is to develop companion diagnostics. An important example is EGFR mutation analysis, for which a novel HRM-based technology was developed, to select patients who are likely to benefit from treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors.    


DaniĆ«lle Heideman PhD - program leader
Erik Thunnissen MD PhD  - program leader
Robert van Boerdonk MD - PhD student