We can learn a lot from patients that were treated at Amsterdam UMC’s Brain Tumor Center. Expected treatment impact and side effects can be sharper predicted based on data from these patients. Brain tumor specialists of Amsterdam UMC therefore collect and analyze many data. Medical students support data analysis of over 1,200 glioblastoma brain tumor patients that can be used to develop individual treatment plans in the future. 

Finding and sharing insights on brain tumors
In the Netherlands, preclinical and clinical researchers in neuro-oncology are organized in a network called ‘Dutch Neuro-Oncology Working Group’. Young investigators are united in the LWNO-I. Members of this research network participate in an annual scientific meeting to present current and new research projects. At the most recent LWNO meeting on April 9, Nienke Grun received the prize for the best presentation from neuro-oncologist Matthijs van der Meulen of the LWNO-I. Her presentation was entitled: ‘Thrombocytopenia in patients with glioblastoma treated with radiation and temozolomide’.

Nienke Grun
Nienke Grun

Analyse therapeutic side effect in patients with brain tumors
Together with fellow medical students Caroline de Otter, Jorrit Osinga and Maura Sintemaartensdijk at Amsterdam UMC, an important therapeutic side effect in patients with glioblastoma was systematically analyzed: low blood platelet counts. Following treatment, half of the glioblastoma patients develop low blood platelet counts. Moreover, in a quarter of the patients the decrease in blood platelets is so severe that the therapy must be adjusted or stopped. The incidence of low platelet counts depends, among other things, on the gender and age of the patient and the chemotherapy dosage. Patients with very low platelet counts make on average 15 additional hospital visits, involving more blood testing or hospital admissions in support of blood transfusions, among other treatments. 

Help patients and practitioners to make a personal treatment plan
Mathilde Kouwenhoven, Amsterdam UMC neurologist and principal investigator, says: “Nienke and her seven fellow students have done a great job, in addition to fulfilling all requirements for their study in medicine. They systematically processed detailed medical data from more than 1,200 glioblastoma patients treated at the Brain Tumor Center in Amsterdam. With this data, we aim to identify which patients are more likely to show a good response to treatment or which patients are at higher risk of developing serious side effects. This information can help patients and practitioners to make a more personal treatment plan”.

Currently, the glioblastoma patient study is currently being expanded to two other brain tumor centers in the Netherlands. In addition to practitioners at these brain tumor centers, the research team has been enlarged to include nuclear physicians, basic researchers, clinical pharmacologists and biostatisticians. As Nienke said during the award ceremony: “Research is teamwork”!

For more information on activities of the LWNO network, see Link