Leading cancer institutes and organisations are combining forces to streamline cross border cancer research in Europe. The project EurocanPlatform has received 12 million euros from the European Union to find more effective ways to ensure the prevention, early discovery and treatment of different forms of cancer. Several cooperating organisations of the European Action Against Rare Cancers are involved in this project, including the European Institute of Oncology (IEO), the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), the Italian Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, and the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC).
Professor Ulrik Ringborg from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet who are coordinating the project comments, “In a way, you could say that this initiative represents a paradigm shift in cancer research. The project will last five years, leaving a legacy of a collaborative structure within the EU for cancer research.”
Despite improved diagnostics and treatment in recent years, the number of people dying of cancer is expected to rise. Already the world’s deadliest disease group, cancer is growing as one of the largest chronic diseases, putting immense pressure on healthcare systems around the globe.
At the same time, however, modern cancer research is rapidly improving understanding of the disease, and new technologies are being developed for use in patient-end cancer research. Scientists hope that they will one day not only be able to identify people at risk for cancer, but also adapt therapies to different types of cancer and to patients’ individual circumstances.
“An important part of the project concerns getting the right therapy to the right patient at the right time,” says Professor Ringborg. “But before we can get there, we need to do a great deal of research since the range of possible tumours and therapies is vast. No one research centre can have the resources needed. We must make sure that we coordinate and exploit the resources we have to the full.”
EurocanPlatform is a network of Europe’s 28 most research-intensive institutions in the field of cancer, of which the majority are clinical (patient-end), the remainder being engaged in basic research. A great many researchers from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Britain are involved in various parts of the project. The collaborative platform allows individual research groups and organisations to conduct studies they would not otherwise have the resources for; with the costs of expensive equipment, tumour material and competence shared.