Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

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ProCan is part of international collaboration focusing on childhood cancer

05/Feb/2019  

Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) participated in the recent launch of an international collaboration with research organisations in nine European countries and the US to create personalised treatment plans for children with cancer.

The project known as individualisedPaediatricCure (iPC) will be led by IBM in Switzerland and private research company Technikon in Austria. It was kicked off at a meeting with the members held in Zurich in January.

ProCan’s Co-Director Professor Phil Robinson attended the meeting to discuss CMRI’s role in the partnership.
In this € 15 million, four-year project funded by a European Commission grant, 21 partner organisations will work together with the goal of giving clinicians the tools and knowledge to create individualised treatment plans for children with cancer.
 
CMRI Director Professor Roger Reddel, who is also Co-Director of ProCan explained the importance of the collaboration.  “Although great advances have been made in the treatment of childhood cancers, too many children still die from these diseases,’’ Professor Reddel said, "and a substantial proportion of those who are cured suffer long-term serious health consequences from the intensive treatments that are currently required.

A major reason for cancer being so difficult to treat effectively is that cancer cells undergo many random changes, which means that each cancer has an essentially unique combination of molecular characteristics. To address this problem, it is important to develop ways of specifically tailoring treatment combinations for the molecular profile of each individual cancer, to maximize cures and to minimize short- and long-term treatment side-effects.
 
The iPC project is highly complementary to CMRI's ProCan® program, which is using machine learning to predict the most effective treatment for individual cancer patients based on "big data": detailed information about the proteins and genetic changes in the cancers.
 
The iPC project team will focus on using existing expert knowledge about the molecular processes within cancer cells to build a computer model which can be modified for each individual cancer based on its unique molecular composition. This "virtual tumour" which will be constructed for each patient will be tested in the computer to determine which treatments it responds to best.
 
These treatments will also be tested on a computer model of the patient - a "virtual patient" – so that treatments with the least toxicity can be chosen.
 
The participating organisations will determine whether there is an optimal combination of big data and computer modelling approaches, to achieve the ultimate aim of increased patient survival and improved quality of life.
 
 
The iPC partners are
• TECHNIKON FORSCHUNGS- UND PLANUNGSGESELLSCHAFT mbH (Austria)
• IBM RESEARCH GMBH (Switzerland)
• BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE (United States)
• INSTITUT CURIE (France)
• TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITÄT DARMSTADT (Germany)
• UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI NAPOLI FEDERICO II. (Italy)
• UNIVERSITEIT GENT (Belgium)
• BARCELONA SUPERCOMPUTING CENTER - CENTRO NACIONAL DE SUPERCOMPUTACION (Spain)
• XLAB RAZVOJ PROGRAMSKE OPREME IN SVETOVANJE DOO (Slovenia)
• PRINSES MAXIMA CENTRUM VOOR KINDERONCOLOGIE BV (Netherlands)
• MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FÖRDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV (Germany)
• Academisch Medisch Centrum bij de Universiteit van Amsterdam (Netherlands)
• UNIVERSITÄTSKLINIKUM HEIDELBERG (Germany)
• INSTITUT DE INVESTIGACIO EN CIENCIES DE LA SALUT GERMANS TRIAS I PUJOL (Spain)
• ALACRIS THERANOSTICS GMBH (Germany)
• UNIVERSITÄT ZÜRICH (Switzerland)
• DEUTSCHES KREBSFORSCHUNGSZENTRUM HEIDELBERG (Germany)
• LUDWIG-MAXIMILIANSUNIVERSITÄT MÜNCHEN (Germany)
• THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA NON PROFIT ORG (United States)
• CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE (Italy)
• CHILDREN'S MEDICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (Australia)