14 April

KWF Unique High Risk Project for Katharina Sonnen

Back to news

Katharina Sonnen receives a KWF (Dutch Cancer Society) Unique High Risk Project that is financed from the proceeds of Alpe d’HuZes. She and her team will use the grant to investigate signaling dynamics in colorectal cancer with the ultimate aim of developing new or modified treatment possibilities.

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Many mutations that cause cancers alter signaling networks, which are the means of communication between cells. This leads to problems with tissue homeostasis; keeping the tissue stable. It also contributes to diverse aspects of the development of tumors, such as uncontrolled cell division and evasion of cell death. While several anti-cancer drugs directly target these mutated signaling pathways, targeted therapies still struggle with the trade-off between efficacy and toxicity. One reason for this is the complexity of signaling networks, whose features such as feedback loops can significantly interfere with the efficacy of drug treatment.

New treatments

Pascal Schulthess from the Sonnen lab will use the funding from the KWF Unique High Risk Project to investigate the impact of drug administration frequencies on signaling dynamics in colorectal cancer. The long-term aim is to explore new and modified treatment possibilities for this type of cancer. To achieve this, Schulthess and colleagues will combine experiments with theoretical modeling, with support from Frederica Eduati (TU Eindhoven) and Hans Clevers.

“How signaling dynamics impact cancer biology has been a long-standing question in the field. We now have the tools and support to address this question using colorectal cancer as a model system. I am very thankful to all donators and participants of the Alpe d’HuZes and should really start to consider re-activating my race bike…” Sonnen concludes.



Katharina Sonnen is group leader at the Hubrecht Institute.