Today, too many cancer patients are taking medicines that will not benefit them. This is partly due to the fact that genetic differences among tumors cause differences in the efficacy of the same drug, resulting in cure for some patients, while others do not respond to the therapy. As such, researchers aim at mapping the biological characteristics of each cancer patient, in order to
determine the drug that will work best for the patient. This so-called precision oncology paradigm is promising, but further work is needed before it can be fully implemented in the clinic.
In my postdoctoral research, I aim to develop and apply new tests for biological characterization of cancers, by investigating tumor-derived substances that circulate in the blood of cancer patients, i.e. extracellular tumor-derived RNA substances. More specifically, I will test which type of blood samples should be used for the analysis of these substances and how these blood samples should be collected. Next, the developed methodologies will be applied to detect specific substances that can implement precision oncology for lung, colon and breast cancer, and to detect cancer-specific
substances that circulate in the blood of patients diagnosed with other types of cancer. As such, I will explore new horizons of the promising research field of blood-based precision oncology. The ultimate goal is to improve outcome of cancer patients through improved therapy monitoring and follow-up.