prof.dr. L.W.M.M. Terstappen (Leon)


About Me

Brief summary of research over last five years

Leon Terstappen is a medical doctor with a PhD in biophysics who is intrigued by finding technology solutions to medical problems. He has become an international recognized expert in cytometry and pioneered the detection of rare cells.  Early in his career he explored the differentiation pathways of hematopoietic cell lineages and identified the phenotype of the hematopoietic stem cell. With the observation of cancer cells in cell suspensions used for stem cell transplantation of breast cancer patients, he changed his focus and started his pioneering work in Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC).   He was in charge of the development of the CellSearch system, the only FDA cleared platform to enumerate CTC in blood. Using this technology, it was demonstrated that the presence of CTC in patients with no known metastatic disease are at high risk for disease recurrence. In patients with metastatic disease the CTC load is strongly associated with poor outcome and the strongest predictor of therapy response. His research efforts at the University of Twente focused on further technology development to identify, isolate and characterize CTC in all patients with disseminated cancer and demonstration of the clinical utility of the developed tools through national and international collaborations with clinical research centers.  Our[EMA(1]  observation of small objects being present in blood of cancer patients and their load being strongly associated with clinical outcome lead to the[EMA(2]  interest in Extracellular Vesicles (EV). We[EMA(3]  baptized these objects as tumor derived EV (tdEV) and observed a large yet unexplained heterogeneity in appearance. Recently technology has been invented and developed to determine the secretome of individual CTC and assess their response to therapy. This is currently being explored in hormone sensitive metastatic prostate cancer through an NWO/KWF project in collaboration with Erasmus. The ultimate objective is to guide individual treatment of cancer patients throughout the course of their disease and along the way validate the “liquid biopsies” technologies to truly enable personalized cancer care.

 In 2007, Terstappen started the department of Medical Cell BioPhysics at The University of Twente. From 1994 to 2007, he was Chief Scientific Officer at Immunicon Corporation, Huntingdon Valley, PA, USA. From 1987 to 1994, he held various research positions in the research department of Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry systems in Mountain View CA, USA. He obtained his PhD from the University of Twente and his medical degree from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Medicine & Life Sciences
Breast Neoplasms
Circulating Neoplastic Cells
Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
Extracellular Vesicles
Prostatic Neoplasms
Surface Plasmon Resonance
Engineering & Materials Science


Netterberg, I. (Author), Karlsson, M. O. (Author) , Terstappen, L. W. M. M. (Author), Koopman, M. (Author), Punt, C. J. A. (Author), & Friberg, L. E. (Author). (2023). Data from Comparing Circulating Tumor Cell Counts with Dynamic Tumor Size Changes as Predictor of Overall Survival: A Quantitative Modeling Framework. Web publication/site https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.c.6529016
Booijink, R. , Terstappen, L. , & Bansal, R. (2023). Single Cell Secretome Analyses of Hepatic Stellate Cells: Aiming for Single Cell Phenomics. In R. Weiskirchen, & S. L. Friedman (Eds.), Hepatic Stellate Cells: Methods and Protocols (pp. 257-268). (Methods in Molecular Biology; Vol. 2669). Humana Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-0716-3207-9_16
Nanou, A., Miao, J. , Coumans, F. A. W., Dolce, E. M., Darga, E., Barlow, W., Smerage, J. B., Paoletti, C., Godwin, A. K., Pusztai, L., Sharma, P., Thompson, A., Hortobagyi, G. N. , Terstappen, L. W. M. M., & Hayes, D. F. (2023). Tumor-Derived Extracellular Vesicles as Complementary Prognostic Factors to Circulating Tumor Cells in Metastatic Breast Cancer. JCO Precision Oncology, 7, Article e2200372. https://doi.org/10.1200/PO.22.00372
Lu, T. , Terstappen, L. W. M. M. , & Prakash, J. (2022). MicroRNA in the Tumor Stroma: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Implications. In J. Prakash (Ed.), The Tumor Stroma: Biology and Therapeutics (1 ed.). Jenny Stanford Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781003224921-8
Bollen, Y. (2022). Karyotype diversification in colorectal cancer. [PhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT, University of Twente]. University of Twente. https://doi.org/10.3990/1.9789036553506
Bollen, Y., Hageman, J. H., van Leenen, P., Derks, L. L. M., Ponsioen, B., Buissant des Amorie, J. R., Verlaan-Klink, I., van den Bos, M. , Terstappen, L. W. M. M., van Boxtel, R., & Snippert, H. J. G. (2022). Efficient and error-free fluorescent gene tagging in human organoids without double-strand DNA cleavage. PLoS Biology, 20(1), 1-16. Article e3001527. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001527
Tamminga, M. , Andree, K. C., van den Bos, H., Hiltermann, T. J. N., Mentink, A., Spierings, D. C. J., Lansdorp, P., Timens, W., Schuuring, E. , Terstappen, L. W. M. M., & Groen, H. J. M. (2022). Leukapheresis increases circulating tumour cell yield in non-small cell lung cancer, counts related to tumour response and survival. British journal of cancer, 126, 409-418. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01634-0
Foy, V., Lindsay, C. R., Carmel, A., Fernandez-Gutierrez, F., Krebs, M. G., Priest, L., Carter, M., Groen, H. J. M., Hiltermann, T. J., de Luca, A., Farace, F., Besse, B. , Terstappen, L., Rossi, E., Morabito, A., Perrone, F., Renehan, A., Faivre-Finn, C., Normanno, N., ... Michiels, S. (2021). EPAC-lung: European pooled analysis of the prognostic value of circulating tumour cells in small cell lung cancer. Translational Lung Cancer Research, 10(4), 1653-1665. https://doi.org/10.21037/tlcr-20-1061
International SU2C PCF Prostate Cancer Dream Team (2021). CD38 in Advanced Prostate Cancers. European urology, 79(6), 736-746. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2021.01.017

UT Research Information System

Courses Academic Year  2023/2024

Courses in the current academic year are added at the moment they are finalised in the Osiris system. Therefore it is possible that the list is not yet complete for the whole academic year.

Courses Academic Year  2022/2023

Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Science and Technology
Carré (building no. 15), room C4437
Hallenweg 21
7522NH  Enschede
The Netherlands

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Mailing Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Science and Technology
Carré  C4437
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands