Research Projects

Students Fight Cancer supports eight specific research projects. As we would like to tell our supporters what we do with the donated money and why it is so badly needed, below you can find the eight researches briefly explained.


The early detection of kidney cancer by using an urine test

Kidney Cancer is often discovered by coincidence and most of the time it is hard to say if the tumour is malignant or benignant. The consequence is that people with a benignant tumour sometimes have to undergo heavy surgeries. The solutions for this problem may be in biomarkers: chemicals which provide a measurable indicator for the prevalent state of the disease. Researcher at the Maastricht UMC+ want to discover biomarkers in urine, that point to kidney cancer and the benignancy/malignancy of the tumour. The research team in Maastricht developed a unique and new method to make this diagnosis, which hasn’t yet been used elsewhere in the world. A lot of research is needed before this new method can be applied within hospitals. The support from Students Fight Cancer is much needed to reach this goal.


A scan instead of an operation for breast cancer

After a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s very important to know if there are any metastases. To be able to say this, the axillary gland needs to be removed. This is what we call the axillary lymph node dissection. Many women have long-term complaints after this operation, while 8 out of 10 women have clean lymph nodes. A group of researchers in Maastricht are now looking for a way to replace the lymph node dissection by a PET-MRI scan. Luckily this seems to be the case. The next step is to demonstrate that it works in a larger group of people. A PET-MRI scan of the lymph nodes is made in a group of 125 breast cancer patients. If this study gives the same results like the first, smaller one, this new method will be used immediately in the hospital. A study like this costs a lot money, and that’s one of the studies where the total revenue of Students Fight Cancer goes to.


Breast reconstruction with feeling 

Having a breast amputated is often a drastic experience for women. Nowadays there are very good cosmetic results can be achieved with breast reconstructions. However, the feeling in the breast is missing with the traditional procedure, which is extra part of suffering for many women. Doctors at Maastricht UMC + have developed a way to preserve feeling in the reconstructed breast. The technique has been used in Maastricht UMC + for a few years now and the first results are promising. Women with a nerve connection seem to have more sensation in their breasts than women without. They also seem to rate their quality of life higher. But before you can call it a fact, it has to be scientifically proven. That is why a large-scale study has been started. In addition, the team is working on further improving the procedure. Can you help make it possible? Support Students Fight Cancer.


Active life after colon cancer

More and more patients are able to survive colon cancer due to the improvements made in treatment. Unfortunately they often still have physical complaints and are chronically fatigued after treatment. These complaints can have a significant impact on the patients life. Scientists in Maastricht are trying to find solutions for these complaints by studying different types of nutrition and physical activity and their effect on these complaints. The population for this study consists of patients who have been treated for colon cancer in one of three selected hospitals in Limburg. These patients are followed narrowly for 5 years after their treatment with activity meters and food journals used as tools by the scientists. Specialised dietitians visit these patients on a regular basis to take their blood levels and provide them with additional advice and nutrition plans. With this information the scientists are studying which type of lifestyle is most effective to cure the complaints of the ex-patients. The scientists need a bigger population for their research to be able to study which biological factors are important in this treatment. To make this valuable research possible your help is much needed!


Killercell: the soldier who cleans up cancer cells

You can think of them as little soldiers in your body taking out the ‘bad guys’. The ‘bad guys’ are the cancer cells. Killer cells are an important part of our immune system that prevents us from getting sick. But sometimes cancer cells manage to bypass these killer cells. Researchers in Maastricht are therefore making extra strong killer cells in the laboratory. The goal is to give them in the future to patients whose own killer cells are not working properly anymore. First, the treatment of bone marrow and breast cancer can be improved, but later on treatments of other cancers could also be improved. Immunotherapy is promising, but also very expensive. So join the fight and make a difference by supporting Students Fight Cancer.


More successful therapy combination for lung cancer

If you have lung cancer, you often get a combination of treatments. Radiotherapy (radiation) is an important component, along with, for example, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. But it is not yet known which combination and which dose is best for specific types of lung cancer. Maastricht is currently conducting the first study worldwide into the simultaneous administration of radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy for different forms of lung cancer. The researchers are working with 'organoids', also known as 'mini-organs'. When a piece of the tumor or lung tissue is removed from a patient during standard surgery, it goes to the laboratory. By using their own developed technique, these cells can be infinitely multiplied. In this way, you grow a "mini-organoid" that has many characteristics of the tumor or lung of that particular patient. These organoids can then be used to figure out which therapy combination will work best in that one patient. More generally, researchers are also looking at the proteins that play a role, so-called "biomarkers". These can help predict how effective a particular therapy combination is for a single patient. Within four years, the research group aims to increase the chances of curing lung cancer without more side effects and with the same quality of life for patients. Will you support that goal?


The ethical implications of a blood test to identify all forms of cancer

Being able to detect cancer at an early stage is a huge advantage. International scientists are now working on developing a blood test that can identify all types of cancer early on. This test looks for universal “tumor markers” in the blood. However, a test like this creates ethical uncertainties. In the case that the test is not accurate one hundred percent of the time, there is a risk of misinforming patients. This could mean someone who does not actually have cancer is subject to further invasive tests, or someone who does have cancer is cleared, allowing their cancer to continue to grow. Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Guido de Wert, with Maastricht UMC+, will conduct research to navigate the pro’s and con’s of such a blood test. Dr. Wert needs the support of Students Fight Cancer! Read more about Dr. Wert’s research via this link.


Detect skin cancer within 30 seconds

The Maastricht UMC+ hospital is the only hospital in the Netherlands to offer a scan to determine skin cancer. This scan is conducted with a special machine that returns the results within 30 seconds. Skin cancer, which affects one in five Dutch citizens, is otherwise detected with a biopsy that requires cutting out a piece of skin. This biopsy is painful, and takes two weeks to return results. This device is just as accurate as such a biopsy, and can make a difference in dermatologist capacity and cost savings if it is brought into more hospitals. Read more about Klara Mosterd’s research via this link or watch it via this video.