Digital technology serving humanity

Published on December 06, 2017

The Louvain Foundation’s end-of-year fundraising campaign, launched on 5 December, supports cancer research. The COALESCENS project proposal, submitted by Professor Daniele Catanzaro (LSM-CORE), was chosen by the foundation’s scientific committee. The project is vital to developing personalised treatment for every patient.

Today, 45% of breast cancer cases and 30% of prostate cancer cases are invasive. Why do some cancers rather than others become invasive? Why do some genes misfire?

Recent research has demonstrated that it is just as important to understand the development of tumour cells as it is their origin. Understanding how a tumour will develop makes it possible to define the type of cancer and thus implement a treatment that targets the specific pathology. The COALESCENS research project began in 2012. Researchers analysed the genetic characteristics of 13 American invasive breast cancer patients and managed to isolate tumour cells one by one and individually sequence their DNA, which allowed them to track the tumour’s growth.

That’s the challenge of this project: non-medical researchers develop complex mathematical models for reconstructing a kind of family tree that explains the genetic development of tumours. It’s an innovative and interdisciplinary project at the crossroads of mathematics, big data, biology and genetics.

For more information and the accounts of two experts: www.fondationlouvain-coalescens2018.be.

If you would like to help UCL researchers meet this new challenge, please donate!