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Cancer researchers from Aarhus receive substantial funding

A team of researchers at Aarhus University have just received a grant of almost DKK 10 million from the Moller Foundation. The grant will go towards the purchase of advanced equipment for protein examinations of lymphoma.

Lymphoma is the seventh most common type of cancer in Denmark. It accounts for three to four per cent of all new diagnosed cancer cases each year. A grant from the Moller Foundation now offers a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Aarhus University an opportunity to improve both diagnosis and treatment of lymphoma, as they will now be able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for mapping the proteins that can play a role in the development of the cancer. In addition, the new equipment will also improve the researchers' opportunities for revealing new proteins that can be used as the targets of new targeted treatments.

"We are very proud and grateful for this large grant. Crucially it means that we can intensify our research efforts within lymphoma by purchasing mass spectrometry equipment. In popular terms you can say the equipment functions as a highly refined, sensitive and very precise weight, whereby you can measure which proteins have been changed, both by volume and chemically, even in very small tissue samples from patients with lymphoma," explains Bent Honoré from the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University. He is leading the protein studies in close collaboration with Professor Francesco d'Amore from the Department of Haematology and Professor Stephen Hamilton-Dutoit from the Department of Histopathology, Aarhus University Hospital.

"Lymphoma is a type of leukaemia which occurs in the lymph cells. For reasons we do not yet understand, they begin to divide themselves faster than normal and form tumours in the lymph nodes, spleen or other organs. In some cases they also multiply in the bone marrow leading to anaemia and a failing immune system," says Francesco d'Amore.

More detailed studies

The diagnosis will be made based on the clinical symptoms combined with the microscopic examination of tissue.

"With the microscopic examinations we can diagnose lymphoma but these examinations are not always sufficient to divide patients into precise groups with well-defined prognosis," says Stephen Hamilton-Dutoit .

The analysis of the protein combination in the tumour will give the researchers a unique opportunity to achieve a better and biologically more meaningful grouping of patients and thereby provide better preconditions for targeting treatment towards certain key proteins. The Aarhus team has already shown that this is possible and the team's research results have been published in the highly respected scientific journal Blood. With the new state-of-the-art equipment the team now has the opportunity to undertake far more detailed and applicable protein studies of the cancer tissue than previously.

"We can thereby maintain a high level of research on an international level which is so crucial for being able to conduct research of a quality which can lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of lymphoma, emphasises Bent Honoré.

One of the goals of the examinations is to identify biomarker proteins that can be used for a more precise diagnosis. Another goal is to identify proteins encumbered with abnormal functions in the disease so that new treatments can, in the long term, be targeted at these proteins.

Further information

Professor Bent Honoré
Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine
Mobile: +45 2338 2288