Driven by Health – Innovation and cancer: from lab to patient

From now on, you can relive the 'Driven by Health' session 'Innovation and Cancer' online: a dynamic show about a challenging topic... but with a hopeful message, this is definitely worth your viewing time!

On October 11, 2022, we inspired health tech professionals during our third ‘Driven by Health’ session on ‘Innovation and Cancer’. Nearly 150 attendees listened attentively to top experts, were inspired by the various innovation booths, and enjoyed healthy catering. Moderator Hanne Decoutere managed everything smoothly; Kevin Punie, Eric Van Cutsem, Kim De Keersmaecker, Diether Lambrechts, Stefan Gijssels, and Koen Kas shared their insights. Because cancer is an ugly beast, we all know that… That’s why we looked in detail at how we can translate fundamental scientific research into clinical practice. In short, the approach was: “How can innovative cancer research lead to practical applications for the patient?” and what are the opportunities and challenges involved?

From the panel discussion, the various individual interviews, and the presentations during the innovation booths, the need for collaboration consistently emerged. The solution to cancer – and other dreadful diseases – can only be found when knowledge institutions, government, and innovative companies come together and pull in the same direction. A powerful message for the future!

Yes, you can relive the entire event online and discover what our top experts have to say. hier!

“Innovation booths” of medical companies

We listened not only to the top experts but also showcased their insights in a very tangible way. The following medical companies were present and introduced their innovations.

VIB – Improved prediction of cancer treatment

In the VIB Grand Challenges project, 4 clinical studies with immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy were initiated in indications of unmet clinical need.

Tumor biopsies were collected from patients receiving ICB, before and during treatment, and at disease progression. By characterizing the tumor and tumor microenvironment at the cellular level during treatment with immune checkpoint blockers, the project aims to find a biomarker for the response to ICB, thereby improving the prediction of treatment outcomes. You can learn more about it at the VIB booth.

Comunicare Solutions – Digital patient platform

Comunicare Solutions, a spin-off from the University of Liège, offers innovative solutions to enable patient support and facilitate their interactions with their healthcare teams. The company was originally developed in the context of oncology.

With an extensive platform for patient support and empowerment, Comunicare focuses on therapeutic education, treatment adherence, and the collection and analysis of patient functions, symptoms, and experiences.

Would you like to experience Comunicare’s work in oncology in an interactive format and discuss how cancer patient empowerment and self-management solutions can be established? Meet their team during the Driven by Health event.

Terumo – Radioembolization of liver tumors

Terumo Interventional Systems proudly presents the latest innovation in the field of Interventional Oncology at ‘Driven by Health’.

Radioactive (Holmium-166) loaded microspheres (40µm in size) are injected into the liver tumor through a fine catheter, from the groin or wrist, via the bloodstream. This irradiates the tumor from within, allowing for highly localized radiation.

An animated video about this technology will be shown at the interactive booth, along with the delivery system, where the radioactive particles are safely introduced into the patient.

Biocartis – Physicians and patients gain faster access to cancer therapy

The molecular diagnostic platform Idylla™ is the flagship product of Biocartis. The Idylla™ cartridges that run on this platform provide easy and very rapid molecular diagnostic information about cancer-driving mutations, often in just a few hours.

This information is crucial for physicians and patients, enabling them to quickly access targeted and efficient cancer therapies.

Aspect Analytics – Software for spatial omics technologies

Aspect Analytics is a spin-off from KU Leuven that develops scalable, cloud-based software for the analysis of spatial omics technologies, such as mass spectrometry imaging, spatial transcriptomics, and multiplexed fluorescence imaging.

These molecular imaging technologies enable the characterization of tissue sections on an unprecedented scale biomolecularly, allowing them to rapidly enter into diagnosis, biomarker discovery, and pharmaceutical research.

Aspect develops the software tools to optimally support these applications with AI & machine learning, as well as the necessary tools for data and workflow management.

Byteflies – Personalized technology for healthcare pathways

With the Care@Home solutions, medical teams can monitor vital parameters and digital biomarkers for extended periods during their patients’ daily activities.

By combining comfortable and user-friendly patches and wearables with data analysis, we build optimized solutions for specific care pathways. Currently, OncoCare@Home is being developed, a technology for remote patient monitoring.

KU Leuven Institute for Single Cell Omics – LISCO studies cells to unravel cancer

LISCO brings together scientists from various disciplines for groundbreaking research into individual cells through single cell omics.

Researchers will use the latest techniques on a larger scale to study how cell types differ within and between tissues and change over time, providing new insights into development, normal organ function, aging, and various diseases including cancer. The researchers also study how cell types change under the influence of therapies. This can teach us how some tumor cells adapt to chemotherapy, rendering the treatment ineffective, and how we can prevent this.

In addition, LISCO also provides services to external partners and contributes to shaping the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers.

Roche Diagnostics

To continue offering the best care to cancer patients, we must continue to innovate. Every patient is unique, and their tumor has a unique genetic profile. Our goal at Roche Diagnostics is to characterize tumors as precisely and comprehensively as possible, so that personalized therapy, unique to the patient, can be administered. At our booth, you can learn about our solutions for digital pathology, Comprehensive Genomic Profiling with NGS, and software that supports physicians in making diagnoses. Feel free to stop by!

LKI: Leuven Cancer Institute

The KU Leuven Cancer Institute or LKI is the consolidation of all Leuven forces active in cancer research, cancer treatment, and cancer care. This creates a strong synergy between the efforts of UZ Leuven, KU Leuven, and the VIB Center for Cancer Biology.

In the institute, clinicians and fundamental researchers collaborate to elucidate mechanisms underlying cancer growth and metastasis. They also use the knowledge derived from this research to develop new approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The range of activities is therefore very broad, covering the entire research cycle from basic research to conducting groundbreaking clinical studies. It is precisely this intense multidisciplinary collaboration, in which clinicians and researchers from various backgrounds and expertise come together, that constitutes the great strength of the LKI.


  • Prof. Eric Van Cutsem is a professor at KU Leuven and head of Digestive Oncology at UZ/KU Leuven. He is a world authority in gastrointestinal, liver, and pancreatic cancers. He is the chairman of the Foundation Against Cancer and has received multiple international awards such as the European Awards in Medicine for Cancer Research. He is/was a board member of numerous international and national scientific associations in Gastroenterology and Oncology, such as the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and the American Society for Oncology (ASCO). In 2018, Eric Van Cutsem was featured in the TV program ‘Topdokters’.
  • Prof. Kim De Keersmaecker began applying emerging next-generation sequencing technology in 2010 to study the cancer genome, which enabled her to discover mutations in ribosomes in cancer cells. In 2014 and 2019, she received prestigious ERC Grants. The De Keersmaecker lab conducts in-depth characterizations of cancer cell biology and uses this knowledge to develop targeted therapies, often based on repurposing existing drugs. The impact of this research is illustrated by publications in leading journals such as Nature Genetics, Nature Medicine, Nature Communications, and Molecular Cell, as well as by several prestigious awards.
  • Dr. Kevin Punie is a medical oncologist and staff member of General Medical Oncology at UZ Leuven. His clinical expertise areas include breast cancer and hereditary cancer syndromes. As principal investigator, he is closely involved in clinical studies (phase 0 to IV) with a focus on triple-negative breast cancer. He is currently working on a doctoral thesis on plasma and tissue single-cell multiomics in early stages of triple-negative breast cancer. Dr. Punie is active in the steering committee of the EORTC Breast Cancer Group, a board member of the Belgian Society of Medical Oncology, a member of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Young Oncologists, and a member of the ESMO Resilience Task Force.
  • Prof. Diether Lambrechts is a group leader at the Center for Cancer Biology (CCB) of VIB and professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He has been honored with several awards, including the Karel-Lodewijk Award for Human Medicine, the Galenus Prize for Pharmacology, the AstraZeneca Award for Translational Research, and the Agilent Thought Leadership Award. His expertise focuses on addressing key questions in oncology by translating genome-scale datasets into clinically applicable knowledge. Since January 2017, he has been the director of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology.
  • After recovering from metastatic colon cancer himself in 2016, Stefan Gijssels is currently advocating for patients and working as a freelance healthcare policy advisor. Since January 2021, Stefan has been serving pro bono as the chairman of the Patient Expert Center (PEC) in Belgium, an organization that trains members of patient organizations to become patient experts in their disease area. He serves as a patient representative on numerous (cancer) advisory boards, including the European Commission Initiative on Colorectal Cancer (ECICC), and has extensive professional experience in various organizations combating cancer.
  • Koen Kas is a healthcare visionary, delight thinker, professor of molecular oncology & digital health/healthtech at Ghent University, chairman of the European cancer prevention organization, and renowned international keynote speaker. He is the author of ‘Nooit meer ziek’ (Never Sick Again) and ‘Your guide to Delight’. ‘Nooit meer ziek’ describes how we transition from reactive healthcare to proactive care and well-being. ‘Your guide to Delight’ is a roadmap to that future with the introduction of our digital twin as a health companion

About Driven by Health

‘Driven by Health’ is a seminar series on the future of healthcare. The initiative is coordinated by Leuven MindGate and Health House, and is supported by KU Leuven and UZ Leuven. ‘Driven by Health’ aims to provide a platform for inspiring speakers with enriching insights into innovation in healthcare.


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