Conventional cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are far from sufficient. New strategies for cancer treatment are therefore needed.

There is a large body of evidence that indicates that tumor growth and the spread of cancer cells throughout the body depend on the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). Next to this, angiogenesis is an early event in the development of tumors; this process starts long before a visible or clinically relevant tumor mass is present. These two features make angiogenesis an ideal target for the development of novel anti-cancer strategies.The recent discovery that a group of non-coding ribonucleic acids, called microRNAs (miRNAs), play a critical role in gene regulation, opens the way towards discovering RNAs that can control angiogenesis. This project aims to establish a technology platform for the development of therapeutics based on anti-angiogenic miRNAs.

Fast facts
Full project title: Anti-angiogenic miRNA based therapeutics
Start date: June 2009
End date: June 2013
Goal: Development of an miRNA-based technology platform for the development of anti-cancer therapeutics
Principal investigator: André van Puijenbroek, InteRNA Technologies B.V.
Project size: 8 FTE's
Partners: InteRNA Technologies, Utrecht University, VU University Medical Center


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is a generic term for a large class of diseases all having one element in common: uncontrolled division (growth) of cells. In most cases a tumor develops, which is an abnormal growth of tissue resulting from the uncontrolled division of cells. This process may be started by external agents called carcinogens or inherited genetic factors. Carcinogens can be subdivided among physical, chemical and biological carcinogens.  The most important carcinogen is tobacco smoke (chemical carcinogen), others include radiation (physical carcinogen) and infections from specific bacteria, parasites or viruses (biological carcinogens). Cancer may also be caused by random errors in DNA replication.

Cancer can affect any part of the body and the symptoms thus vary depending on the type of cancer. Most common, however, are lung, stomach, breast, colon and liver cancer. Parallel to the large variety of cancer types there is also a large variety of treatment types. The most occurring are chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Which method is chosen depends on the location and stage of the disease as well as the patient’s general health. 

PhD Theses from this project

“TI Pharma's partnerships result in a synergy that really drives the science further than the individual parties could achieve working alone.”

Jan Raaijmakers
Past VP External Scientific Collaborations GSK Europe
Chair TI Pharma Board of Directors

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