ROS1ders – Research UMCG


This research is being realised by the OncoLifeS project in the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG). This is a data biobank in which data and specimen material (such as blood, urine, saliva, faeces, bone marrow, abdominal fluid, thoracic fluid and tumor tissue) are stored from people with a diagnosis of cancer or with an increased risk of cancer. With these data and materials, researchers at the UMCG can conduct better research into the prevention and treatment of cancer. See the Consentform Oncolifes for more information about the OncoLifeS project. 

The researchers of Groningen
Dr. A. van der Wekken works as an pulmonologist at the UMCG and treats people with lung cancer with specific mutations, among others ROS1. Drs. F. Zwierenga is a recently graduated medical practitioner who is working on her thesis about resistance mechanisms in people with lung cancer, among others the resistant mechanism in ROS1 lung cance. Together they work in a multidisciplinary team at the UMCG which consists of pathologists, pulmonary doctors, lab analysts and other researchers. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions for more information.
Thereby, we have an enthusiastic ambitious research team working in the Hanze Hogeschool….


Additional information about ROS1 lung cancer and scientific research

What do we mean by ROS1 lung cancer?

ROS1 lung cancer occurs in 1-2% of people with non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). ROS1 lung cancer occurs when a gene (which is a set of information, also called DNA, that determine how cells behave) called ROS1 blend with a nearby other gene and swaps pieces of DNA. It is unclear why this sometimes happens. When this happens, the ROS1 gene becomes abnormal (mutated) and cancer occurs: cells continue to grow, make too many copies of themselves and invade other surrounding cells. Ultimately it will travel through the bloodstream and lymph nodes to create tumours in other parts of the body. ROS1 lung cancer tends to be aggressive and can spread fast.


Treating ROS1 lung cancer

In the past couple of years scientists developed special drugs that target the mutated ROS protein. These drugs are called ‘targeted therapy drugs’, also known as ‘tyrosine kinase inhibitors’, or TKIs. TKIs can be a more effective anti-cancer drug than chemotherapy for many ROS1 lung cancer patients. Some patients experience stability or no evidence of the cancer for years. 

But for most patients, the cancer eventually starts growing again. Unfortunately, TKIs will not cure the disease. They only suppress the cancer and sometimes makes it smaller, but will not kill it. Eventually the cancer starts to act abnormal again (mutates) and patients develop a resistance mutation that makes the current TKI treatment ineffective. Possible other treatments after a mutation can be other TKIs, chemotherapy or radiation. To unravel the common, but yet unknown underlying mechanisms why this happens, more research is essential. Because new (experimental) drugs for ROS1 lung cancer patients are the hope for a qualitatively longer life for ROS1ders. 


The main aim of our project is to improve treatment outcome for ROS1 lung cancer who develop resistance towards initial medication against the tumour. 


What do we do with the ROS1 lung cancer cell lines?

In this project, we want to use ROS1 tumour cells to set up a cell culture. A cell culture is a process where the tumour cells are introduced in to an artificial environment in the laboratory with favourable conditions for growth. By establishing the cell culture, we can extent the numbers of cells and have more possibilities to investigate them. With this cell culture, we want to set up experiments to determine the response of the ROS1 lung cancer cells to (novel) treatments. 

The results of this project will help us to optimize treatment for individual people with ROS1 lung cancer developing resistance towards targeted TKI, leading to personalized medicine. Moreover, in case we can implement cell cultures successfully, we can set the next steps to implement short term culture and testing of TKIs in the diagnostic setting.

More information, check the brochure below

Brochure UMCG