The Italian-Austrian team of PreCanMed will meet today for the first PreCanMed Workshop in Innsbruck and present the perspectives of their research and innovation initiative in precision cancer medicine. In public lectures, the experts will also give students, researchers and interested citizens an insight into the latest findings of cancer research.
Innsbruck, 30. May 2017 – The first PreCanMed workshop in Innsbruck will focus on insights into tumour biology and new key technologies for personalised cancer medicine. PreCanMed is a cross-border project funded by the European Regional Development Fund Interreg V-A Italia-Austria 2014-2020, which aims to further develop one of these new key technologies. The researchers of the PreCanMed consortium want to present the new approaches to a broad expert audience as well as to the interested public in short presentations.
In recent years, cancer medicine has increasingly pursued the goal of replacing expensive and often poorly effective standard therapies with therapies that are individually tailored to the patient. Drugs and therapies are specifically selected on the basis of the patient’s molecular and clinical data. This strategy should not only have positive socio-economic consequences in terms of the patients’ costs and quality of life but also increase the life expectancy and the chances of curing cancer patients.
Nevertheless, research is only at the beginning of precision medicine, too complex and too expensive are many approaches at present, which hinders the introduction into everyday clinical practice.
In the regions of Tyrol and Friuli Venezia Giulia, strong expertise in various areas of personalised cancer medicine have developed over the past few years. In order to bundle the accrued knowledge and build up a joint competence platform, a supraregional consortium of scientific and clinical partners has joined forces. The partners of Interreg project PreCanMed intend to work together with funding from the European Fund for Regional Development to improve the treatment of cancer patients over the next three years.
In the context of precision medicine, so-called “tumor organoids” are becoming increasingly important. Tumour organoids are three-dimensional cell complexes that are produced from tumour samples or biopsies and cultivated in the test tube. The original characteristics of the patient’s tumour are almost completely preserved in the tumour organoids. Tumour organoids can be produced quickly and are therefore an ideal instrument for the comprehensive characterisation of patient tumours in the test tube without putting additional strain on the patient. On one hand they enable the genotypic characterization of the original tumor and allow drugs to be tested in advance for their efficacy in this specific tumor tissue while on the other hand tumor-organoid cell cultures are an innovative instrument for drug screening projects, i. e. the development of new drugs, and are already used in the discovery of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
In PreCanMed researchers will work together across borders to cultivate tumor organoids for breast, lung and colon cancer, as well as to produce models of the relatively rare connective tissue tumor – the so-called malignant mesothelioma. By combining organoid- and omics- technologies with high-throughput screening of active ingredients and bioinformatics solutions, the company aims to develop know-how and generate new knowledge for cancer medicine. For example, the genotypic characterization of tumor organoids is to be standardized and the use of these cell complexes for drug testing is to be established. In addition, the researchers want to establish the first cross-border tumor organoid biobank in order to secure molecular data and generated knowledge in the long term.
Stefan Schöftner from the Italian Laboratorio Nazionale CIB in Trieste, the project coordinator, explains: “The PreCanMed Biobank will be a unique and invaluable resource for cancer research, both for the Italian and Austrian project partners. In order to use this database in a sustainable manner with the common goal of fighting cancer, this resource is to be made available to other regional, national or international research institutions in the future.”
In PreCanMed, the two Tyrolean partners ADSI (Austrian Drug Screening Institute GmbH) and the CCCI (Comprehensive Cancer Center Innsbruck) of the Innsbruck Medical University, headed by Prof. Dr. Lukas Huber, are part of the cross-border consortium. Together with the Universities of Udine and Trieste and under the leadership of the Laboratorio Nazionale CIB in Trieste, know-how for extraction, cultivation and preservation of tumour organoids is to be developed.
In this project ADSI provides state-of-the-art equipment and methods for the production of tumor organoids from colorectal cancer cells and, above all, for the testing of cancer drugs. With the CCCI, the Medical University of Innsbruck and the Tyrol Hospitals have established an oncology competence center, which gives researchers access to clinical data and accelerates the implementation of results from experimental cancer research in everyday clinical practice.
More information at www.precanmed.eu
Consorzio Universitario per le Biotecnologie – Laboratorio Nazionale
Prof. Stefan Schoeftner
AREA Science Park
AREA Science Park
+39 040 3758030
Dr. Barbara Frick
+43 676 82312923