Geneeskunde en Gezondheids­wetenschappen

Cancer Research Day UAntwerp

6 October 2023 - 9:30 - CDE Building Q, D.Q.002

Technology in Oncology

Registration is closed - if you still want to participate, email us!

Location: Campus Drie Eiken, Promotiezaal D.Q.002 + Foyer
Time: 9:30new time! - 16:30


09:30new time!     introduction - Steven Van Laere and Debbie Le Blon

09:40    Organoids by dr. Christophe Deben, Maxim Le Compte
10:25    Breathomics by prof. Kevin Lamote, Kathleen Zwijsen

11:10    BREAK

11:30    Molecular Imaging with Radiopharmaceuticals by prof. Filipe Elvas, Louis Lauwerys
12:15    Methylation profiling and epigenomics by prof. Ken Op de Beeck, Isabelle Neefs

13:00    LUNCH

14:00    CAR constructs and transfections by dr. Jonas Van Audenaerde, Laurens Krekelbergh
14:45    Introducing the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core Facility of the UAntwerp (FACSUA)
                by prof. Eva Lion, Delphine Quatannens, Sofie Gielis

16:30    END


In this talk, we will discuss three cutting-edge tools and platforms that are revolutionizing cancer research at the University of Antwerp. First, we will spotlight our tumor organoid biobank, a dynamic repository of patient-derived organoids that encapsulates the diverse genetic and phenotypic landscape of tumors. This biobank not only facilitates in-depth study of cancer biology but also supports the design of personalized therapeutic approaches.

Next, we will dive into the DrugVisionAI platform, a groundbreaking serviceplatform for high-throughput drug screening on organoids. Leveraging advanced imaging technologies, including widefield and confocal imaging, DrugVisionAI provides unprecedented insights into real-time drug responses at a cellular level. This automated screening platform not only accelerates the drug discovery process but also enhances our ability to predict therapy response in patients.

Lastly, we will introduce Orbits, our powerful image and data analysis platform. With its machine learning capabilities, Orbits transforms complex sets of live-cell imaging data into valuable, interpretable insights. It streamlines the often intricate data analysis process, enabling researchers to rapidly extract and interpret meaningful information regarding drug-organoid interactions.

Taken together, these platforms—our organoid biobank, DrugVisionAI, and Orbits—form a comprehensive, integrated approach for advancing our understanding of cancer and informing the development of highly targeted, effective therapies.

- dr. Christophe Deben

Uncovering the hidden threat: single-organoid analysis reveals clinically relevant treatment-resistant and invasive subclones in pancreatic cancer 
- Maxim Le Compte


Breathomics, a field exploring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath, has emerged as a powerful tool for diagnosing and monitoring diseases, notably in oncology. Breath, consisting of VOCs, provides a non-invasive, easily accessible sample for analysis. Over 3000 VOCs, primarily hydrocarbons, have been identified, some proving to be effective markers for cancer types like lung cancer and mesothelioma. These VOCs offer a potential avenue for detecting malignancies in earlier stages, discovering tumor mutations and gauging disease stages. The analysis of breathomics in oncology presents a promising approach for personalized medicine, aiding in therapy monitoring, adjuvant screening methods and optimizing treatments. This non-invasive and convenient method has the potential to revolutionize cancer diagnostics and improve patient outcomes. Integrating breathomics into the diagnostic workflow could offer critical insights and significantly impact cancer research and care.

- prof. Kevin Lamote, Kathleen Zwijsen

Unveiling the clinical utility of breathomics and its potential use as add-on in lung cancer screening
- Kathleen Zwijsen

Molecular Imaging with Radiopharmaceuticals

Molecular imaging in living subjects is intrinsically associated to nuclear medicine. Over the years, nuclear medicine has aimed to facilitate the noninvasive diagnosis and management of patients in the clinic, via imaging instrumentation and radionuclides (either alone or attached to molecules that specifically interact with one or more molecular targets). Recent developments in miniaturized positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) systems, combined with the synthesis of novel radiolabeled molecules, also known as radiopharmaceuticals, specific for different biochemical targets, have accelerated preclinical research and drug development. Molecular imaging is a powerful tool that allows the real-time dynamic monitoring of disease processes, making it possible to early detect and longitudinally monitor disease progression and treatment efficacy.

- prof. Filipe Elvas

Development of novel caspase-3 PET radiotracers for imaging immunotherapy responses
- Louis Lauwerys

Methylation profiling and epigenomics

Cancer is a complex  disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth and proliferation. Over the years, research has uncovered various genetic mutations and structural alterations that contribute to the development and progression of cancer. However, it has become increasingly evident that epigenetic modifications, specifically DNA methylation changes, play a pivotal role in the initiation and maintenance of cancer.

DNA methylation is a reversible epigenetic modification that involves the addition of a methyl group to cytosine residues within CpG dinucleotides. Aberrant DNA methylation patterns, have been observed in various cancer types and can disrupt the normal regulation of gene expression, leading to uncontrolled cell growth.

Understanding methylation changes in cancer is crucial for the development of a novel generation of cancer methylation biomarkers that hold the potential to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, and patient outcome. In this talk, I will provide an overview on the significance of methylation changes in cancer and describe recent scientific and technological progress in the field.

- prof. Ken Op de Beeck

IMPRESS: Improved Methylation Profiling using Restriction Enzymes and smMIP Sequencing, Combined with a New Biomarker Panel, Creating a Multi-Cancer Detection Assay
- Isabelle Neefs

CAR constructs and transfections

After the breakthrough of immune checkpoint blockers in cancer immunotherapy, it appears that advanced cellular therapies are becoming the next big thing. In this regard, CAR T cells have already shown very promising results in haematological malignancies. However, many hurdles remain to broaden the applicability of this type of therapy requiring more in-depth scientific research. The Center for Oncological Research and the Laboratory of Experimental Haematology are collaborating on different strategies to drastically improve these so-called Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products. A series of CAR molecules are being optimised and several techniques to insert the CAR molecules into different immune effector cells are evaluated. The aim is to establish a platform that enables us to start from in silico optimisation of the CAR molecule until GMP production of the therapeutic cell product itself. This platform will be presented step-by-step and offers unique opportunities for other labs as well.

- dr. Jonas Van Audenaerde

Optimization of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) design for improved cellular immunotherapy of hematological diseases
- Laurens Krekelbergh

Introducing the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core Facility of the UAntwerp (FACSUA)

Flow cytometry and single cell sorting are widely used techniques that allow the simultaneous and multi-parameter analysis and/or isolation of physical and chemical characteristics of a population of single cells or particles in a heterogenous sample. FACSUA provides support and trainings and offers services to academic and industry partners, to leverage qualitative cell biological, (pre)clinical cellular research, and small particle research.

- prof. Eva Lion

Exploring the TIGIT axis in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma patients
- Delphine Quatannens
talk on computational modeling from sorted cells 
Sofie Gielis