Cancer, a chronic disease?

Cancer has become an enormous field of research. At the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology alone, twelve research groups are researching this disease. “All twelve groups are interested in the area surrounding the tumor. That is what unites us,” said Director Diether Lambrechts. “More than half of each tumor consists of normal cells. They are hijacked and manipulated by the malignant cells to promote their own growth. By zooming in on that tumor environment, we can open the doors to new forms of cancer therapy.”

“Great strides have been made inimmunotherapy, for example,” Lambrechts noted. “As a result, the survival rate of people with metastatic lung tumors has increased from months to years.” Things are also going very fast in other research areas, thanks in part to the implementation of new technologies at the clinic. Just think of next generation DNA sequencing. “Eliminating cancer altogether will be difficult,” concluded Lambrechts, “but as it stands, we will turn cancer into a chronic disease instead of a fatal condition. That has to be possible soon.”

Diether Lambrechts, Science Director of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology