27 June 2017

1.5 million Euros for brain tumour research

Bas van Nimwegen (DGK), Frank Nijsen (UMCU) and Raymond Schiffelers (UMCU) have received a joint grant of 1.5 million Euros from STW/NWO for research into brain tumour treatment. The research will initially focus on dogs and cats with brain tumours, and will hopefully extend to humans in the future.

The research by Bas van Nimwegen and Frank Nijsen will develop a new therapy for dogs and cats with brain tumours. In this minimally invasive therapy, radioactive holmium microspheres are injected into the tumour via a CT/MRI-guided needle. “We inject a very high radioactive dose locally into the tumour, in order to avoid the surrounding tissue”, Van Nimwegen explains.

Radioactive spheres are injected into the tumour to destroy the tumour from the inside

Future treatment for humans

The research has a multi-disciplinary and highly translational character. “A large part of the study will be conducted among patients at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine: dogs and cats suffering from brain tumours. Dogs and cats with brain tumours display symptoms similar to those displayed by humans with the same condition. With this new therapy, we will be able to treat animal patients who can then serve as models for the same treatment in humans in the near future.”

The subsidy will enable the researchers to appoint two PhDs and two analysts, develop the system for administering the treatment, and provide 80,000 Euros for the treatment of veterinary patients.

Treating the tumour bed

Raymond Schiffelers’ project will study the application of holmium microspheres for the treatment of the tumour bed after the brain tumour has been surgically removed.


The study is a consortium composed of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UMC Utrecht, TU Delft, TU Twente and the companies Quirem Medical and Enceladus. The consortium is a result of a years-long partnership between the three researchers. The human pre-clinical projects are supervised by neurosurgeons Pierre Robe and Marike Broekman (UMC Utrecht).

  • Nijsen and Van Nimwegen have been presented with an STW/NWO subsidy of 883,000 Euros for their application: 'Image-guided treatment of brain malignancies with radioactive holmium microspheres'.
  • Schiffelers has received 590,000 Euros from KWF-STW for his application: 'Targeting the Glioblastoma Micro-Environment'.