Nicole Dam


Oncolytic virus therapy has shown to be a promising cancer therapy by specifically replicating in, and killing tumor cells. In addition to the cancer cells, the tumor microenvironment (TME), containing a diverse group of cells and molecules, plays a significant role in the success of a cancer therapy. An important cell type in the TME are the cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs). CAFs can have a diverse effect on tumor biology, since some subsets can stimulate tumor growth, while others inhibit it.

We recently learned that oncolytic viruses are also able to replicate in and eradicate CAFs. However, the effect of oncolytic virus targeting of CAFs on tumor suppression is not completely known at this point. In this PhD project, I will therefore study how CAFs influence the efficacy of oncolytic virus treatment, with a specific focus on the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The project is a collaboration between the CCB Virus and Stem Cell Biology group (Vera Kemp and Rob Hoeben), the MDLZ department of the LUMC (Luuk Hawinkels) and the Pulmonary and Surgery departments of the Erasmus MC (Elham Aida Farshadi and Casper van Eijck).

Curriculum Vitae

In September 2016 I started the bachelor in Biomedical Sciences at the LUMC. I performed my bachelor internship in the group of Rob Hoeben, where I studied the effect of an amino acid substitution in oncolytic reovirus. Next, I continued the research specialization of the master  Biomedical Sciences with a focus on cancer research. I performed my first internship in the group of Maarten Bijlsma at the AMC, where I studied the effect of inducing a transient mesenchymal state on the mitochondrial dynamics in several gastrointestinal cancers. My second internship was in the Hematology department of the LUMC, led by Hendrik Veelken. Here, I explored the contribution of autonomously signaling B cell receptors in transformation of follicular lymphoma. In January 2022, I started my PhD project studying the effect of cancer associated fibroblasts on the efficacy of oncolytic virotherapy.


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