Shortly after his mandate as rector of VUB, Paul De Knop was diagnosed with (metastasised) melanoma cancer. This continues to be one of the most aggressive forms of cancer. During his treatment at the UZ Brussel, Paul came into contact with prof. dr. Bart Neyns and his research team at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy.
Their experimental immunotherapy is already yielding very good results today. But further research is required to help more people, more quickly and more affordably, out of their precarious situation.
Immunotherapy can save lives
With the new cancer treatment, the researchers use the body's own cells to attack the tumour. Our immune system contains various types of cells. These include dendritic cells, which help attack cancer. But a tumour does not contain enough of these particular cells. Therefore, researchers remove the dendritic cells from the patient's body. In the laboratory, they revise them so that the cells, once back in the patient's body, are better equipped for their task. In other words, the body itself destroys the cancer.
Fast forward to:
Prof. dr. Bart Neyns and his colleagues at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy are achieving extraordinary success with this new cancer treatment. But additional resources are desperately needed. After all, Bart's immunotherapy is based on the body's own cells, not on pharmaceutically developed products. The result: the pharmaceutical sector has little or no interest in this solution in the fight against cancer. To put it bluntly, there is no money in it. But immunotherapy can save lives!
A first realisation of the VUB-UZB Paul De Knop Fund is the purchase of the prodigy unit. This device removes blood from patients' bodies and prepares so-called dendritic cells in a closed circuit.
Watch the video in which Paul and Bart tell you more about the treatment and this device.