Associate Professor Yi Sun and Professor Sine Reker Hadrup

Novo Challenge grant for interdisciplinary research center

mandag 07 jun 21


Sine Reker Hadrup
Sektionsleder, Professor
DTU Sundhedsteknologi
35 88 62 90


Yi Sun
Gruppeleder, Lektor
DTU Sundhedsteknologi
26 67 39 98

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation's Challenge Programme

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme 2021 has granted 366 MDKK for seven research projects that aim at generating ground-breaking new knowledge within health or technology.

In 2021, the grants have been awarded within three themes: Smart Nanomaterials for Applications in Life Science, Proteins for Tomorrow’s Food, and Mathematical Modelling of Health and Disease. The themes are based on a number of challenges of great interest at the moment.

Researchers from DTU Health Tech have received 37.7 MDKK from The Novo Nordisk Foundation. Together with colleagues from University Hospital Regensburg, they will transform CAR T-cell therapy for treating solid cancer tumours.

Chimeric Antigenic Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a method of immunotherapy used in cancer treatment. The patient’s T-cells are harvested and genetically engineered to recognise and kill cancer cells outside the body, before they are infused into the patient to start attacking the tumour.

Currently, the CAR T-cell treatment requires comprehensive handling outside the patient’s body, which is not only logistically exhaustive but also expensive.

Nanoparticles for better cancer immunotherapy

Based on immunology, genetic biology and nanotechnology, the research team aims at radically changing the way cancer is treated with CAR T-cell therapy.

Professor Sine Reker Hadrup, who will be leading the project explains, “We are going to use nanoparticles for delivering new cancer-specific receptors for T-cells directly in the bloodstream. It is a major challenge that we are looking forward to solve”.

"With this grant, we will be able to develop new technologies, which can solve many of the challenges we face today for CAR T-cell therapy."
Professor Sine Reker Hadrup

She continues, “With this grant, we will be able to develop new technologies, which can solve many of the challenges we face today for CAR T-cell therapy. And we hope that this will contribute to better use of such therapies for cancer patients”.

Associate Professor Yi Sun, who works with nanomaterials and nanobiosensors at DTU Health Tech, is a partner in the project. She states, “I am looking forward to start working with the project, where we will develop radical new solutions based on nanomaterials to address the major hurdles currently faced by CAR T-cell therapy, so that their potential can be fully harnessed for solid tumors.”

This interdisciplinary work is a great example of the very different but complementary competences present at the Department of Health Technology.

Read The Novo Nordisk Foundation's press release here.  

About the project

The new Center for Nano-Immune Cell-Engineering (NICE) will be headed by Professor Sine Reker Hadrup, and it will run for 6 years.

The project includes three partners:

Professor Sine Reker Hadrup will lead the center and contribute with her extensive knowledge in immunology and caner-immunotherapy.

Associate Professor Yi Sun will contribute with her great experience in creating advanced nanomaterials with novel structures and functionalities.

Professor Hinrich Abken from University Hospital Regensburg will contribute with his well-known work in evolutionary design of CAR genes and transposon systems.

(Photo: Yi Sun and Sine Reker Hadrup. Photo by Jesper Scheel)

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