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Sanne Lievense received NRS Travel Grant

Travel grants April 2014

Sanne Lievense, MD, PhD-candidate

Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute

Thanks to the NRS travel grant I was given the opportunity to participate in the Keystone Symposium ‘Immune Evolution in Cancer’ in Whistler, Canada. My PhD project focuses on the role of the immune system, and tumor-associated macrophages in particular, in malignant mesothelioma (asbestos cancer). Keystone symposia are known for their high quality and their intimate setting facilitates opportunities to interact with other researchers and to receive feedback on your own work.

Earlier during my PhD project I focused on the phenotype and function of different types of macrophages in mesothelioma and their relation to clinical parameters like tumor progression and survival. In the coming period I would like to investigate how we can target tumor-associated macrophages in our mesothelioma model. At the symposium, world-renowned researchers in the field of tumor-associated myeloid cells presented their most recent data. During the session “re-education of tumor-associated macrophages” several approaches to target macrophages were discussed. Attempts to prohibit the recruitment of macrophages in tumor models via the inhibition of the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) showed promising results. In addition, CD40 agonists were shown to be able to specifically alter the phenotype of tumor-associated macrophages and exert a survival benefit in tumor models. We are now planning to test the potential benefit of both of these approaches in our mesothelioma model.

In addition to these new scientific insights, I also benefited from the opportunity to present my own data during the poster session. Discussions with other participants gave me some new perspectives on the implications of my data and input on practical issues regarding the in vitro culture of macrophages.

In conclusion, thanks to the NRS travel grant I was able to attend a very nice symposium that gave my project a new impulse.