Sixth Framework Programme projects to reinforce European role in cancer research

Brussels 13 October 2003The European Commission will fund 19 new projects, worth 100 million euro, in the field of cancer research. Funded under the "life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health" priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the projects range from investigating links between genomics and cancer, and developing imaging and radiotherapy technologies, to establishing clinical trials for breast cancer and leukaemia, and helping to create bio-banks and cancer registers.

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A large majority of the projects selected for funding are making use of FP6's new instruments, Integrated Projects and Networks of Excellence. Welcoming this trend, EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin stressed that investing 400 million euro in cancer research over the next four years is pointless unless researchers and funding agencies across Europe are ready to work together.

"No single country can work in isolation and European cancer research too often suffers from a duplication of efforts and from a lack of critical mass. As in other areas of science, a dedicated European Cancer Research Area will be instrumental in turning advances in science into effective early stage diagnoses and therapies for patients and in transforming progress in the lab into improvements in clinics as fast as possible", Mr. Buisquin added.

A total of six projects are being funded in the area of genomics. These include two integrated projects using innovative oncogenomic technologies to identify novel cancer genes and study their involvement in cancer progression, and four other projects investigating how molecules can be potential molecular targets for new drugs to alter the development of cancer.

Three projects aimed at developing new imaging probes and validating support tools for the diagnosis of brain tumours have also been selected. It is hoped that by advancing imaging and radiotherapy technology, lung, breast, prostate and other tumours can be detected and treated early on.

In terms of providing better therapies, two networks have been chosen to carry out clinical trials on potential therapies for breast cancer and leukaemia. In addition, a network of excellence linking bio-bank and cancer registries is also expected to be instrumental in the design and evaluation of cancer treatments and prevention.

Two further calls for proposals will be announced early next year and will cover areas such as pre-clinical tests, new therapies, cancer in high-risk populations, familial cancers and uncommon cancers, immunological control of tumours, and molecular detection and treatment of minimal disease.


Leslie Versweyveld

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