News & Highlights

Award Dian Winkelhorst for study to improve prenatal care

Researcher Dian Winkelhorst (Sanquin Research, departmentm of Experimental Immnuhematology and Leiden University Medical Centre), recieved the De Snoo - van 't Hoogerhuijs Award for her studies to improve prenatal care. The HIP (HPA-screening In Pregnancy) study started on 1 March 2017. Dian will collect data among 100,000 pregnant women to assess whether early detection and possible prevention of the disease FNAIT (Fetal/Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia) - a rare condition in newborn babies, is feasable.
The aim of the study is to find out more about FNAIT, so prenatal testing can be improved. All pregnant women who are Rhesus D and Rhesus c negative are allowed to participate in the HIP study after informed consent. The regular 27-week sample is taken and - for women included in the study - tested for Rh antibodies as well as antibodies against platelets.

March 2017


Claes Högman Honorary lecturer award to Ellen van der Schoot

On Wednesday June 1st 2016 Prof Ellen van der Schoot MD PhD received the Claes Högman Honorary lecturer award from the Swedish Society of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine. This award is given to scientists to honor their contributions to the field of Transfusion Medicine. During the well-attended 2-day conference  in Umeå (Sweden) Ellen van der Schoot presented two lecturers.       Spring meeting Umeå 2016 (3)


Masja de Haas appointed professor of Translational Immunohematology

As of 15 July 2015 Masja de Haas PhD is appointed professor of Translational immunohematology at Leiden University. This professorship is embedded in the Dept of Immunohematology and Blood Bank of the Leiden University Medical Centre. Existing collaboration on clinically oriented research between Sanquin and LUMC will be further strengthened by this appointment. Prof De Haas will remain at Sanquin as head of the cluster Immunohematology of Sanquin Diagnostic Services and as senior researcher at the Dept of Experimental Immnunohematology.       Masja de Haas2

Editorial in Blood on paper Rick Kapur

A paper by Rick Kapur from Gestur Vidarsson's group was published in Blood recently, together with an Inside Blood Commentary by John Semple. In this paper 'C-reactive protein enhances IgG-mediated phagocyte responses and thrombocytopenia' the authors ( in a 'series of elegant studies' (Semple) show that C-reactive protein (CRP) enhances IgG-mediated phagocytosis of platelets and patients with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) have elevated CRP levels, which predicted slower platelet recoveries and bleeding severity.

       Figuur Blood 200 pixels'

Enhance picture

Thesis Annemieke Laarhoven

On 30 January 2015 Annemieke Laarhoven defended her thesis ‘Pediatric Immune Thrombocytopenia Catching platelets’ at the University of Amsterdam.

Promotores: Prof CE van der Schoot PhD
Copromotores: M de Haas PhD, G Vidarsson PhD and dr MCA Bruin PhD

          Annemieke Laarhoven

Thesis Helga Einarsdóttir

On 24 September 2014 Helga Einarsdóttir defended her thesis 'Functional specialization and cooperation between the neonatal- and classical IgG receptors, FcRn and FcγR' at the University of Amsterdam.

Promotor: Prof CE van der Schoot PhD
Co-promotor: G Vidarsson PhD

       Promotie Helga Einarsdottir

Joe Leigh Simpson Award

July 2014: We are delighted to inform you that our PhD student Florentine Thurik has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Joe Leigh Simpson Award, previously known as the Young Investigator Award, given to the highest scoring ISPD conference abstract from a presenter under 40 years of age.

She will present her abstract named “Are false-positive results in non-invasive prenatal RhD typing caused by placental chimerism?” during the Plenary Session: Top Abstracts and Awards on Monday, 21 July 2014, 16:00 – 18:00 PM in Brisbane, Australia.


The secretary Anita Engels celebrated today (10 April 2014) her 12,5 years jubilee. She is the pivot of the departments IHE and HEP     Jubileum Anita

A prominent lack of IgG1-Fc fucosylation of platelet alloantibodies in pregnancy

January 2014: The paper of PhD student Rick Kapur, supervised by Gestur Vidarsson A prominent lack of IgG1-Fc fucosylation of platelet alloantibodies in pregnancy has been selected as the plenary paper of the last issue of Blood 2014; 123 (4):471-80. Furthermore, Richard Aster wrote a comment on it entitled: Core fucosylation and IgG function in NAIT.

Scientific Secretary of the ISBT

December 2013: Ellen van der Schoot has been appointed Scientific Secretary of the ISBT. The International Society of Blood Transfusion brings transfusion medicine at a higher level, amongst others by the organization of conferences. Ellen van der Schoot2

Mystery of the blood group Vel solved

April 2013:
Lonneke Wigman, a PhD student supervised by Ellen van der Schoot has together with scientists from the NHSBT in Cambridge (Cees Albers and the group of Willem Ouwehand) and Groningen (Pim van der Harst) finally solved the mystery of the blood group Vel. A deletion in the gene encoding SMIM1 was found to be responsible for the lack of this blood group. With this discovery we can now develop a more reliable DNA test to identify people who lack this group. This will reduce the risk of severe, and sometimes life threatening, destruction of the Vel-positive donor red blood cells in patients with antibodies against Vel. The results of this study has been published in Nature Genetics with Lonneke as shared first author.
Cvejic A*, Haer-Wigman L*, Stephens JC*, et al. SMIM1 underlies the Vel blood group and influences red blood cell traits. Nat Genet. 2013; 45(5):542-5.

Extended half-life of human IgG3 offers therapeutic potential

Replacing Arginine for Histidine on position 435 in the tail of IgG causes a significantly extension of the half-life of IgG3. The extended half-life of the IgG3–R435H variant offers potential for immunotherapies against cancer. This finding is described by Nigel Stapleton and colleagues from the department Experimental Immunohematology of Sanquin, together with scientists from Utrecht, Oslo and Reykjavik and was recently published in Nature Communications.

IgG activates the complement system and is of importance for activation of Fc receptors. Most other isotype immunoglobulins (IgA, IgM and IgE) are involved in only one of these. Of the IgG subclasses, IgG3 is the most active one. However, IgG3 has a shorter half-life time than the other IgGs. This is because of the presence of Arginine instead of Histidine in the tail of the IgG. Thus, by replacing Arganine with Histidine the half-life of IgG3 can be extended. And with the possibility of IgG3 to activate both the complement system as well as Fc receptors, mutated IgG3 offers interesting opportunities for biopharmaceutical immune therapies.

The study describes that the mutated IgG3 works in vitro and in a murine pneumococcal pneumonia model where it offers protection against the infection. These findings are based on analyses of a number of donors of Sanquin with a naturally occurring abnormal IgG3.

Last edited on: 14 March 2017