Jurgen Haanstra received a 750k€ grant in the ZonMw Open Competition together with Ruud Brakenhoff from Amsterdam UMC-Cancer Center Amsterdam (A-UMC-CCA). The ZonMw open competition funds research proposals for non-programmed, fundamental research. Through this, ZonMw wants to bring together researchers from two or more disciplines to facilitate excellent team science that results in groundbreaking research of exceptional quality in the field of healthcare.
The project of Jurgen and Ruud will focus on metabolism in head-and neck cancer. Head and neck cancer arises in the mucosal linings of the upper-aerodigestive tract and is generally preceded by precancerous changes that may be visible as lesions. In total 50% of patients die of the disease despite invasive treatments. We recently discovered that these tumors rewire their metabolic program atypically. In this project they will use computer models and laboratory experiments to study this atypical metabolic program. They will investigate why these tumor cell reprogram metabolism in this remarkable way, and how this can be exploited to improve diagnosis and treatment of these tumors and their preceding precancerous mucosal changes.