Brightlands Presents Winner Dr. Jan Huynen Award

march 16, 2016

Brightlands today presented its fourth annual Dr. Jan Huynen Award for PhD students in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. 

The winner is Marlies Gijs, who wrote her dissertation at the University of Liège. Its title, “Preclinical Development of 68Ga-labelled Aptamers for Molecular Cancer Imaging” describes a new method to assess the HER2 protein status of invasive breast tumors. Dr. Gijs’ work focuses on a new diagnostic test that can be less expensive and more sensitive than current methods. HER2 tests are needed to select the most effective therapy and to make a reliable prognosis.

Dr. Gijs and her team has discovered novel aptamers for the HER2 and developed a procedure for easy and reliable radiolabeling.

Additional experiments have demonstrated that the novel HER2 aptamers can also reduce cancer cell growth. Based on this therapeutic effect a patent was filed and pharmaceutical companies intend to start pre-clinical trials later this year.

Jury members represented Hasselt University, the University of Liège, Maastricht University, RWTH Aachen University, Medtronic, and Brightlands—all in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. In their review, they wrote: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide [and] the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer. About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.”

The awards ceremony included a word of welcome by Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus CEO Jan Kees Dunning, a discussion of the importance of interfacing academia and industry by Christian Tidona, CEO at BioRN Cluster and BioMed X Innovation Center, Heidelberg, and a talk by medical illustrator Rogier Trompert on the importance of scientific illustration.

About 150 people attended the ceremony and many attended The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) following its conclusion.

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