Biomarkers are used in prevention, in screening for certain diseases and in detecting certain conditions. But they are also particularly effective at predicting whether a particular treatment will work or not. Our focus is on biomarker identification for minimally invasive diagnostic applications, preferably working with liquid biopsies (urine, blood and CSF). This focus has enabled us to build up unique some knowledge and expertise in the field of sample preparation and data analysis. Alongside liquid samples, we also use fresh and fixed tissue material for biomarker development by using MALDI-based imaging.

Protein biomarkers

Proteins are, from a functional point of view, the most important building blocks of the cell and changes in their functioning are at the basis of many diseases. Based on altered proteins, disease processes can be identified. These can circulate as free biomarkers or be packaged in extracellular vesicles, as they are known*. VITO uses state-of-the-art mass spectrometry for the identification and detection of (panels of) protein biomarkers.

We are mainly looking at cancer (bladder cancer and lung cancer) and neurodegenerative diseases (dementia) as applications.


Immunotherapy and personalised medicine are becoming increasingly important weapons in the arsenal of therapies against various forms of cancer. Immunotherapy can be aimed at overriding the inhibition of an immune response (immune checkpoint inhibition therapy), as well as at enhancing the potential of immune cells by targeting them to tumour-specific antigens. Each cell exposes its state of health to immune cells by presenting peptides on the cell surface. Analysis of these immune peptides may provide important insights for cancer research.  With our platform, we analyse peptides present in tumour cells (known as immunopeptidomics) with a view to applications in T-cell therapy, immunotherapy and personalised vaccination.

Specifically, our goal is to overcome some of the existing limitations of the analysis (mass spectrometry and data analysis methodology) and deploy our state-of-the-art immunopeptidomics platform for applications in the field of oncology (lung and colon cancer).