Completed projects

Below an overview is provided of the finished projects hosted by the Biomolecule Design Group.

Onderzoek Uhasselt Onderzoek Uhasselt

Biosensor projects

Innovative bioconjugation methods for an improved detection of ovarian cancer at early stage using multiple biomarkers

Ovarian cancer (OC), of which the incidence increases with age, ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. The common symptoms of OC are indistinct and similar to other benign observations. Most women are therefore diagnosed at an advanced stage III or IV of the disease, at which the 5-year relative survival rate is low (around 39% for stage III and only 17% for stage IV). Serum biomarkers may offer new possibilities to diagnose OC at an early stage. In this project, several nanobodies (Nbs) specifically targeting OC biomarkers are evaluated based on their expression level as well as their target binding affinity. The best candidates will be site-specifically alkynated at their C-terminus using the Expressed protein ligation (EPL) technique and will  subsequently coupled to  to sensor platforms at which all nanobodies are covalently be coupled to sensor surfaces with a unique and uniform orientation, allowing optimal target binding and resulting in improved sensitivity and selectivity.

Metabolomics projects

Towards better therapy for resectable lung cancer: Metabolomics predict therapy response (R-8585)

Introduction: Precision medicine relies on validated biomarkers that can accurately classify patients by their probable disease risk, prognosis and/or response to treatment. Metabolomics is particularly promising for biomarker development because altered metabolism is considered a hallmark of cancer. The measurement of the metabolomic plasma profile is cheap (+-50 EUR) and fast (+-17 min), with a high information throughput on a per sample base.

Rationale: Complete resection is the mainstay of treatment for resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, rates of recurrence of disease are high, with five-year survival rates ranging between 73% (stage IA) and 24% (stage IIIA). Therefore, a predictive biological marker that stratifies between NSCLC patients whom surgery cures, versus patients with early disease relapse after surgery, is eagerly awaited.

Study objective: The primary study hypothesis is that the metabolic plasma profile is a predictive marker of early disease progression after complete surgical resection in patients with pathological stages I to IIIA NSCLC. The secondary study hypothesis is that the level of dissimilarity between the metabolic profile before surgery and the metabolic profile after surgery, is a predictor for disease recurrence (in which the extreme case would be, that a normalisation of the metabolic profile to the profile of a healthy person, is indicative of a good prognosis).