To enable us to do research, we also raised funds in 2022:
The National Growth Fund in 2022 gave grants to four projects of which UMC Utrecht forms a part.
National Growth Fund
The National Growth Fund (NGF) in 2022 gave grants to four projects of which UMC Utrecht forms a part, namely Oncode-PACT, NXTGEN HIGHTECH, Biotech Booster, and Pharma NL. The Growth Fund project RegMedXB pilot factory that received a grant in 2021, also received one in 2022 for the second phase.
Cancer remains the number one cause of death in the Netherlands. Although many things have improved for patients, little progress has been made in the past ten years for those with metastasized cancer. The aim of Oncode-PACT is to speed up and improve the pre-clinical development process of cancer medication in order to develop faster and less expensive drugs for specific patient groups. An infrastructure with innovative models and methods is being set up for the four most frequently encountered groups of cancer medication, namely: Small molecules, Biologics, Cell & Gene Therapy, and Therapeutic Vaccines. For this, researchers make use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Organoid Models, and patient cohorts.
UMC Utrecht is one of the initiators of Oncode-PACT and one of the coordinating establishments of the sub-projects. Partners include the Princess Máxima Center (PMC), the Dutch Cancer Institute (NKI), TNO, Utrecht University (UU), Leiden UMC and other UMCs, Philips, Janssen, and TUDelft. The total project budget amounts to € 224 million for the project’s duration of ten years, and UMC Utrecht will implement € 107 million from this budget. Of this, the National Growth Fund is giving € 60 million, and UMC Utrecht must deliver € 47 million in the form of in-kind contributions.
In NXTGEN HIGHTEC , researchers are developing new-generation high-tech equipment aimed at sustainability, digitization, health, and technological sovereignty. UMC Utrecht is involved in two projects with a biomedical scope, namely the development of an artificial kidney, and cell-production technology.
The aim of the artificial-kidney project is to create an open-technology platform for the production of the next-generation artificial kidneys to replace and support organ function(s). UMC Utrecht is the project trigger and collaborates with sixteen other organizations, including the Dutch Kidney Foundation, IMEC, UTwente, NextKidney, Corbion, Aspen Oss, and LifeTec Group. The total project budget is € 37.6 million, of which € 2.39 million at UMC Utrecht. Of this € 2.39 million, the National Growth Fund is giving € 1.59 million, and UMC Utrecht will deliver € 805,000 as co-funding.
In the cell-production technology project, UMC Utrecht is one of the partners. The aim is to create the next generation of high-tech equipment for the development of Advanced Therapy Medical Products (ATMPs). ATMPs are medical treatments that use living cells, genes or tissues to treat or prevent diseases, such as genetic disorders and auto-immune diseases. Within this seven-year project, over € 1.1 million in the form of an NGF subsidy was awarded to UMC Utrecht, and UMC Utrecht will make an in-kind contribution of € 150,000.
The aim of Biotech Booster is to turn knowledge faster into sustainable biotech products by selecting and developing promising propositions according to business objectives and to create spin-offs. In this way returns on scientific research can be increased and biotech can contribute optimally to solve social challenges. Biotech Booster is a unique public-private coalition with the joint ambition to make the Netherlands a global hotspot in biotechnology by being the missing link in the value-adding chain. The exact (allocation of the) NGF funding is not yet known.
PharmaNL wants to give a sustainable impulse to the entire Dutch value chain of drug development, to make optimal use of the economic potential of innovative pharmaceutical products and production technologies in the Netherlands. That is why PharmaNL established as a completely open program, is accessible to all Dutch pharmaceutical hubs, start-ups, scale-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), large companies, pharma-oriented universities, knowledge institutions and educational establishments. The exact (allocation of the) NGF funding is not yet known.
Allergy research on ‘new foodstuffs’
UMC Utrecht is going to coordinate an international study with 24 international partners that will develop methods to assess the potential for allergy of so-called ‘new foodstuffs’ (for example insect burgers). To this end, the consortium led by a researcher from UMC Utrecht in 2022 received an EC Marie Skłodowska-Curie DN subsidy of € 2.6 million. UMC Utrecht will receive € 500,000 of this.
Improved exercise program for cancer patients
A study group at UMC Utrecht is coordinating a consortium that received a Horizon Europe grant of € 6 million to develop and assess a personalized remote exercise program for cancer patients . This new intervention (PEREFERABLE-II) is expected to solve current problems with the implementation of movement programs for cancer patients and to improve cancer patients’ quality of life. Out of the total subsidy amount of € 6 million, € 1.2 million goes to UMC Utrecht.
NWO subsidies and grants
In 2022, three consortia of which UMC Utrecht researchers form part received a large subsidy from the Dutch organization for Scientific Research (Nederlandse organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek or NWO) . These include studies on the impact of genetic drugs with stem cells (€ 5 million), regenerative treatment methods for osteoarthritis (€ 3.2 million) and a study focusing on the contrast between tailor-made personalized drugs on the one hand and large-scale industrial production of drugs on the other (€ 8.1 million).
A study group from UMC Utrecht is also coordinating a consortium that received a grant of € 3.6 million from NWO for the Perspective Program MAESTRO . With this amount the group will be able to develop a new imaging technology that will predict at an early stage whether a treatment against cancer or type 2 diabetes will work.
In addition, two UMC Utrecht researchers received a grant of over € 700,000 from NWO for research on how the body shuts out inflammatory pain . They thereby hope to understand what goes wrong with people with chronic pain that does not go away, to be able in the long term to develop new treatments against chronic pain.
1 Veni and 1 Vidi grant
The Dutch organization for Scientific Research (Nederlands organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek or NWO) in 2022 awarded Veni funding of up to € 280,000 to a highly promising young scientist at UMC Utrecht. With this grant, the scientist will be able to develop own research ideas further. The research in question is to study the feasibility of an implantable brain technology (communication Brain-Computer Interface (cBCI)) for children with serious physical impairment which prevents them from communicating, in order to establish communication.
In addition, an experienced UMC Utrecht scientist has received a Vidi subsidy from NWO of € 800,000. With this he will be able in the next five years to develop an own, innovative line of research and set up a study group. The research will look at whether genetic disorders might explain a serious sensitivity to staphylococcus infection . An article based on research on this topic has already been published on May 19, 2022 in Science .
The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) is investing more than € 10 million in eighteen studies in Utrecht that will be launched in 2022.
KWF investment in 18 studies on cancer
The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) is investing more than € 10 million in eighteen studies in Utrecht that will be launched in 2022 at UMC Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute. These studies are expected to improve cancer treatment and find solutions on questions like: how can we improve the treatment of mouth cancer, and how can we improve children’s quality of life after brain-tumor treatment by developing a smart watch to monitor hormone balance?
Another project that received € 5.3 million in total from KWF is DARE-NL , a new national platform for the development of highly promising cell and gene therapies. More patients will thus be able to benefit from the life-saving potential of these therapies. UMC Utrecht is the trigger of this platform and is receiving over € 1.6 million of the total subsidy.
Better implantable artificial kidney
In the research project KIDNEW scientists are developing a proof of concept for three breakthrough technologies that should make it possible to have an implantable artificial kidney with a more effective kidney-replacement therapy than that which is currently available. This means that patients will not need immunosuppressants, and the better implantable artificial kidney will also cost less than current kidney-replacement therapy. In the short to medium term, the filter and/or tubuli unit that is being developed in the project can be used outside the body (extracorporal) as a replacement for or in addition to the current dialysis. Scientists at UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University are collaborating within KIDNEW with experts in the field of chip technology (Imec), optical detection (Optofluid Technologies), blood-compatible coatings (CNRS), and membrane technology (Me-Sep). In 2022 KIDNEW received a HORIZON IEC subsidy of over € 3.2 million.
Better treatment of rare genetic metabolic diseases
A researcher at UMC Utrecht received a prestigious ERC Starting Grant of € 1.5 million for five years. The grant will be used to improve the treatment of rare genetic metabolic diseases in children. These diseases are caused by a small error (mutation) in the DNA. The first step towards a better treatment is therefore also to correct the mutation in the DNA.
Gender differences in arteriosclerosis
Cardiovascular diseases are the cause of 51% of deaths in women, and 42% in men in Europe. Heart attacks more often go unnoticed in women than in men. This comes from a lack of knowledge in women with cardiovascular diseases due to the fact that for many years, few women were the object of scientific research. A researcher at UMC Utrecht together with a researcher from the University of Virginia received a Leducq grant of € 7.5 million from the Leducq foundation. The grant was awarded to the consortium for research on gender differences in arteriosclerosis . UMC Utrecht is the EU coordinator of this international network.
Influence of intestinal bacteria on immunotherapy
Health~Holland received nearly € 800,000 in the scope of a public-private cooperation of UMC Utrecht, Artizan Biosciences (US) and MicroViable Therapeutics (Spain). In this way we want to figure out how intestinal bacteria can be used to improve immunotherapy against cancer and limit the side effects of the treatment.