Published: 19-01-2011 00:00 | Updated: 26-11-2013 10:24

New European collaboration on cancer research

[PRESS RELEASE, 19 January 2011] Leading European cancer researchers have combined forces in the fight against the world's deadliest disease in the hope that the coordination of patient studies, the introduction of new expensive technology and other such measures will help them find more effective ways to assure the prevention, early discovery and treatment of different forms of cancer. The EurocanPlatform project has received 12 million euro from the EU and is being coordinated by Karolinska Institutet.

Ulrik RingborgPhoto: Bildmakarna

"In a way, you could say that this initiative represents a paradigm shift in cancer research," says project coordinator Professor Ulrik Ringborg of Karolinska Institutet. "The project will last five years, but after that we count on retaining the collaborative structure in the EU for cancer research."

Despite improved diagnostics and treatment in recent years, the number of people dying of cancer is expected to rise. Cancer is already the world's deadliest disease group, and 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 science's 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 in the risk zone 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. A single research centre can not contain all required 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 the various parts of the project. The collaborative platform allows individual research groups and organisations to conduct studies that they would not otherwise have the resources for. The costs of expensive equipment, tumour material and competence are shared.

"This enables researchers to collaborate and break the negative effects of the growing cancer burden," adds Professor Ringborg. "The ultimate winners will be the patients, the public and the healthcare services."

EurocanPlatform is due to hold its first conference in Stockholm on 20 January 2011. The project has been allocated 12 million euro by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme and is classed as a Network of Excellence (NoE).

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