Mitochondria in a personalized cancer treatment approach

Research type

Laboratorium onderzoek

Start date


Participating coworkers


On 29th of March 2017 Marike van Gisbergen defended her doctoral thesis at the University of Maastricht entitled ’Mitochondria in a personalized cancer treatment’ approach’, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. P. Lambin, Dr. L. Dubois and Dr. A. Voets. Currently cancer is still one of the deadliest diseases. Effective treatment of malignant cells is dependent on the tolerability of normal tissues and its effectiveness to fight the malignant tissue.

Description research

Deregulation of cellular energetics is one of the hallmarks of cancer that can influence treatment success rate. Under normal physiological conditions mitochondria play an important role in the regulation of cellular metabolism and therefore they are often referred to as the “power plants of a cell’. Multiple studies showed association between, altered mitochondrial function, tumor formation and even cancer treatment. The aim of this doctoral study was to investigate the role of mitochondria, reactive oxygens species (ROS), alterations in oxygen levels in tumors and how these influence the personalized treatment of patients. Lab experiments were preformed to evaluate the relationship between mitochondrial function, energetic stress effects and /or stress inducers (like reduced oxygen levels and radiation). In the different studies described within this thesis, we observed that modulation of mitochondrial function and mitochondrial proteins can contribute to alterations of treatment responses. This provides us with new insights in the involvement of mitochondrial function and mitochondrial proteins in cancer therapy. However, as tumor tissues are very heterogeneous and adaptive towards their environment, patient stratification is essential to see which subpopulations of patients would by susceptible for such treatment modulation.