Published: 26-09-2014 15:27 | Updated: 26-09-2014 15:37

KI develops cancer diagnostics and treatments in a new European consortium

Cancer is still the illness with the highest mortality rates in the world. Solving this problem requires new strategies, which is why a new European consortium is now being built – Cancer Core Europe – in which six of Europe's most prominent cancer research centres take part. Karolinska Institutet is one of them.

“KI wants to be part of creating new and improved treatment methods for cancer patients in Sweden and in the rest of the world. This is a unique opportunity to contribute, and that is why we are joining the European consortium where all expertise needed for advanced research is gathered,” says Ulrik Ringborg, professor at Karolinska Institutet.

The cancer issue is growing; within two decades, the number of new cases and the number of patients dying from the illness will increase by 60 per cent, while the number of patients suffering chronic illness is expected to increase by around 300 per cent. The disease is complex and often difficult to treat, and within each diagnosis there are a number of subgroups that require their own specific form of treatment.

Effective development of individualised treatment requires a great volumes of patients and advanced technological resources. Many countries, including Sweden, are far too small and therefore depend on collaboration with international cancer research centres. Within the EU, there has been a large collaboration project underway for a little over three years, called the Eurocan Platform, involving 23 of Europe's most research-intensive cancer centres.

Six of these, which all have a strong focus on the development of new treatment strategies for cancer and advanced clinical trials, have now chosen to enter a closer and more long-term collaboration. The plan is for these centres to electronically share patient data, biological tissue material, different measuring methods as well as results and follow-up data. This will help speed up the development of individualised treatment methods.

“The goal is for us to know in advance what treatment will work on a certain form of cancer. We should be able to give the right therapy at the right time to the right person, and we thereby hope to see a break in the trend, so that we are able to balance this growing problem. I believe this collaboration will give us better odds of improving quality of life, increase survival rates and cure more patients in the future,” says Ulrik Ringborg.

Karolinska Institutet is currently a prominent actor in terms of basic and pre-clinical research, and is now making a large effort to promote the clinical cancer research. As part of this work, the Karolinska Institutet cancer network, KICancer, has been given financial support from the Cancer Research Foundations of Radiumhemmet in the sum of SEK 15 million, to restructure the research over three years towards individualised treatment.

“Teams of physicians and pre-clinical researchers will use this framework to collaborate on several different forms of cancer, which will make an important contribution to the Cancer Core Europe consortium,” says Ingemar Ernberg, who is the chair of KICancer.