The Translational Cancer Research Unit (Antwerp, Belgium) is dedicated to cancer research with an obvious impact on diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and with an emphasis on breast cancer. TCRU is a collaborative effort of the GZA Hospitals campus Sint-Augustinus and the KU Leuven.
The research unit establishes the Department of Oncological Research in combination with the “Clinical Trials Oncology Unit” and is headed by Dr. Luc Dirix. The Department of Oncological Research combines with three clinical departments (Radiotherapy, Medical Oncology and Hematology) into the Oncology Center of the GZA Hospitals, headed by Dr. Philippe Huget.

Although the research topics of TCRU were initially closely related to tumour angiogenesis, the focus has been broadened and now includes the study of tumour-host interactions, including angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis, hypoxia, inflammation and coagulation, and the study of minimal disease in blood and bone marrow.

The two main strategies of the TCRU are:

  1. to confront results of in vitro studies and of animal model experiments with the clinical setting of cancer patients (up-stream)
  2. to translate clinical observations into explanatory models of quantificable parameters in samples of cancer patients (down-stream)

One of the fundaments of translational research is the development of a tissue bank with optimal preservation of the morphology and of the quality of DNA, RNA and proteins. To this purpose, standard operation procedures for tissue, blood and bone marrow sampling and storage (liquid nitrogen container), with integrated qualitiy control, have been developed. Patient’s rights are respected by written informed consent and by anonimisation of the samples.

The TCRU is cofounder of a global consortium ( to foster international collaborations to promote inflammatory breast cancer research.