News & highlights

Non-classical FCGR2C haplotype is associated with protection from alloimmunization in sickle cell disease

Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) are treated with blood transfusions. However, because often red blood cells from minor antigen mismatched donors are used, allo-immunisation occurs in a substantial proportion of SCD patients. Such allo-immunity both undermines treatment and may also contribute to clinical complications.

Researchers of the Phagocyte Lab of professor Timo Van den Berg have shown that a single nucleotide polymorphism within the gene encoding the immunoglobulin receptor FcγRIIc, known as, is a protective genetic biomarker for allo-immunization in sickle cell disease patients. Of additional interest, was particularly strongly associated with the lack of allo-immunity to the less immunogenic red cell antigens.

Genetic marker

Despite extended matching in the Netherlands, (i.e. beyond ABO) for the most immunogenic red cell antigens Rh and K is common, further prevention of allo-immunity and optimization of transfusion strategies is needed. For even more extensive matching the now discovered genetic marker will be very helpful to beforehand discriminate patients with high from those with a low risk for allo-immunisation.

These findings not only provide direct evidence for idea that genetic factors contribute to the risk for allo-immunisation in SCD patients, but can also be exploited for the development of a diagnostic test predicting allo-immunity in SCD. The research is published in Blood and was conducted in collaboration with Karin Fijnvandraat, Professor of Pediatric Hematology at AMC, and Francois Pirenne of the French Hôpital Henri Mondor, Créteil, Parijs.

Professorship for Timo van den Berg

On 6 July 2017, Timo van den Berg PhD was appointed professor of 'Immunotherapy, especially the role of non-specific immunity in tumor reduction' at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. This appointment is an important step to further cooperation between Sanquin and the Vrije Universiteit Medical Center in the area of immunotherapy of cancer, as well as to strenghten the research program of Sanquin within the medical need Cancer. Timo van den Berg will continue his appointment as head of the department of Blood cell research of the Research division of Sanquin.

July 2017

Sanquin and Synthon collaborate on worldwide exclusive license agreement

Synthon enters worldwide exclusive license and collaboration with Sanquin for immuno-oncology therapeutic leads modulating the CD47-SIRPα pathway.

CD47 is a broadly expressed membrane protein that interacts with the myeloid inhibitory immunoreceptor SIRPα (also termed CD172a or SHPS-1). When SIRPα engages with CD47, it provides a downregulatory signal that inhibits host cell phagocytosis, and CD47 therefore acts as a “don't-eat-me” signal. Blocking CD47-SIRPα interactions promotes the destruction of, for example, cancer cells by phagocytes through antibody-dependent mechanisms.

Read the press release

March 2017 

Sanquin Poster Prize for Christine Bruggeman

At the internal Sanquin Science Day on 25 November 2016 PhD Student Christine Bruggeman (department Blood Cell Research) received the Sanquin Poster Prize for the poster entitled 'Enhanced effector functions due to antibody defucosylation depend on the effector cell and its Fcγ receptors'.
Her poster was selected from almost 100 posters presented at the internal science day, held at science museum NEMO in Amsterdam.
Director of research René van Lier and chair of the poster committee Sander Meijer presented her the certificate.
November 2016

 Christine Bruggeman

Sanquin PhD award for Katka Szilagyi

At the internal Sanquin Science Day on 25 November 2016, Katka Szilagyi - now working as a post doc at the department of Blood Cell Research - received the Sanquin PhD award for her presentation, entitled 'Immune check-points in atherosclerosis: role Of SIRPa on B1 cells'.
Dr Szilagyi received the most votes of the audience after three PhD award nominees presented their research.
The other nominees were Roel Gazendam and Jeffrey Kroon.
Director of Research René van Lier presented her the certificate and an amount of money, to be used for science related expenses towards her own development.
 Katka Szilagyi
Dr Szilagyi  defended her thesis ‘Role of Inflammation in Development of Atherosclerosis’ at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in February 2016.
November 2016

In-house Seminar Award for Thomas Klei

On 19 September 2016, Thomas Klei of the Dept of Blood Cell Research received the best in-house seminar award. Other nominees (in alphabetical order) were Eloy Cuadrado (Dept Hematopoiesis), Richard Pouw (Dept Immunopathology), Fiamma Salerno (Dept Hematopoiesis) and Dieke van Rees (Dept Blood Cell Research).
The comments on Thomas' presentation were among others: 'straight to the point', 'nice presentation', 'excellent talk, no remarks', 'clear well-structured talk' and 'cool stuff'.
The award is given annually to the best talk of the weekly in-house research seminars and is based on scores by the audience. Next to the certificate, the award allows the winner to visit a foreign lab of her/his choice for three full months to implement specific experimental approaches to her/his studies.

 Internal Award 2016 Klei

Thesis Xiwen Zhao

On 2 July 2014 Xi Wen Zhao defended her thesis ‘Targeting CD47-SIRPα interactions for potentiating therapeutic antibody-mediated tumor cell destruction by phagocytes' at the University of Amsterdam.

Promotor: Prof TW Kuijpers MD PhD
Copromotor: TK van den Berg PhD

 Promotie Xiwen Zhao

Thesis defense Joris van der Heijden

On 1 July 2014 Joris van der Heijden defended his thesis ‘Genetic variation in human Fc gamma receptors: Functional consequences of polymorphisms and copy number variation’ at the University of Amsterdam.

Promotor: Prof TW Kuijpers PhD
Copromotor: TK van den Berg PhD


 Promotie Joris van der Heijden

Poster presentation award for Djuna de Back

PhD student Djuna de Back won the poster presentation award at the annual symposium of the Dutch Blood Transfusion Society (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Bloedtransfusie, NVB) with her poster presentation entitled ‘Klaring door middel van immune-adherence is afhankelijk van rode bloedcel adhesiemoleculen’. The Dutch Blood Transfusion Society organizes this symposium for those who are working in the field of blood banking, blood transfusion medicine, and those who are involved in scientific research in this field. The symposium was held from 21-22 May together with the Netherlands Haemovigilance Organisation (TRIP, Transfusion Reactions In Patients) in the ‘Reehorst’ in Ede.
 Djuna de Back


Hanke Matlung wins prize at ESCI Congress


End of April 2014, Hanke Matlung, postdoc at the Phagocyte Laboratory of the Dept of Blood Cell Research, won the award for the best oral presentation at the congress of the European Society for Clinical Investigation (ESCI) in Utrecht . She talked about her research on a not previously described cellular mechanism by which neutrophils, in the presence of therapeutic antibodies, can destroy cancer cells. It was the first time that these findings were presented to an international audience of experts in the field of phagocytes.

 Prize Hanke Matlung 200 pixels


Poster presentation award for Sietse Nagelkerke


PhD student Sietse Nagelkerke won the poster presentation award at the Amsterdam Kinder Symposium with his poster presentation entitled ‘Fc-gamma Receptors in human spleen macrophages - implications for improving the treatment of ITP’. The Amsterdam Kinder Symposium is organized as collaboration between the pediatric departments of the two academic hospitals in Amsterdam, AMC and VUmc, and attracted more than 300 visitors. The symposium covers all research topics related to pediatric care and was held on 6 February 2014 at the Delamar theatre in Amsterdam.  Poster presentation award Sietse Nagelkerke

Chinese government award for Xiwen Zhao

Xiwen Zhao, a PhD student of the Blood Cell Research department, has been awarded the Chinese government Award for outstanding self-financed students abroad. The award is setup by the Chinese Scholarship Council to honor overseas Chinese students with outstanding academic accomplishment. Selection criteria are based on the quality of the study and attendance of international scientific conferences. In total 17 Chinese students working in the Netherlands won the prize. The award ceremony will take place at the Chinese Embassy in The Hague in March, at which the awardees will receive $6000 US to further develop or finance their studies. Xiwen Zhao

Presentation Award Katka Szilagyi

PhD student Katka Szilagyi won the presentation award with her presentation on "The role of SIRPa in athero-sclerosis" at the 3rd Rembrandt Symposium of the Rembrandt Institute of Cardio-vascular Science (RICS). The symposium was held at the Leeuwenhorst Conference Center in Noordwijkerhout on 29 November 2012. Katka Szilagyi

Last edited on: 20 September 2017