Europe comes together to develop cancer diagnostics based on genetics and protein chemistry
Uppsala University is participating in Europe’s largest academic-industry collaboration aimed at developing new diagnostic methods for, in the first instance, intestinal cancer. The collaboration represents an important step towards more efficient conversion of cancer research findings into patient benefit.
Approximately 60 researchers are comprised by the five-year OncoTrack project, which is being led by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin.
During the last few decades, the field of cancer research has produced notable progress in terms of treatment. Nevertheless, the significant differences that characterise tumours entail that even advanced therapies only help certain patients. The challenge is to diagnose tumour types and stages as accurately as possible so that the right drugs or combinations of drugs can be chosen in connection with treatment.
“The key factor in this connection is finding tumour-specific markers to improve diagnostics,” says Ulf Landegren, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the Rudbeck Laboratory, who is participating in the project together with his colleague Mats Nilsson, Professor of Molecular Diagnostics. “The collaboration aims at developing the required techniques and computer models.”
Tumour-specific markers would also make it possible to follow patient response in the course of treatment, providing an effective means of learning more about specific forms of cancer and evaluating treatment choices. The project will draw on advanced gene sequencing and protein analysis techniques developed in Uppsala and computer models that allow doctors to analyse large amounts of data about patients. The goal is to understand the connections between tumour characteristics and genetics, a starting point for the development of improved treatments.
“A collaboration of this kind between academia and industry provides decisive advantages for addressing the complicated task of using large-scale genetic analysis as a basis for choosing effective cancer treatments and for developing new medicines and treatment regimes,” says Mats Nilsson.
The other participating research teams are based in Germany, the UK, France and Austria.
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