Experimental immunotherapy

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.

Will you help?

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.

Arming our immune cells against cancer cells

25 percent of patients with metastases heal thanks to that treatment. A new development by prof. dr. Bart Neyns' research team could save even more lives. The illustration explains.

A particular group of immune cells, also called T-cells, play the main role in the new form of immunotherapy. You can compare them to a SWAT team that recognizes and destroys the cancer cell. To prevent the cancer cell from escaping, the T cell is equipped with a CAR: an artificial receptor that converts the defense signal of the cancer cell into an activation signal of the T cell. The CAR gets this property via a small antibody developed in the VUB lab of prof. dr. Karine Breckpot and prof. dr. Nick Devoogdt. The CAR equipment stops the defense of the cancer cell and converts it into a stimulus for the T cell to eliminate the cancer cell.

Illustratie immunotherapie

illustration by Seppe Van den Berghe

2018_Hematologie_Team Paul De Knop_VUB


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!

Prodigy unit

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.

VUB Loopt banner

VUB Runs!

The VUB Runs! campaign is back! With VUB Runs, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel wants to get as many employees, alumni, students and sympathizers as possible running throughout the year as well as raise awareness about sports with the aim of raising money for the VUB-UZB Paul De Knop Fund for immunotherapy. 

Discover all the running activities and how you can support here.

Donate now and make all the difference!

Donate online or by bank transfer to the account number BE51 0013 6779 3562 of VUB with the reference GIFT FO2. Donations from € 40 are tax-deductible.


Discover which other funds you can support

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