European research centres unite to battle cancer

pharmafile | September 9, 2008 | News story | Research and Development Cancer, EU, France, Netherlands, Sweden 

Top oncology specialists across Holland, France and Sweden have formed a new alliance to improve cancer research and reduce treatment related side effects.

The group will be known as the European Comprehensive Cancer Centre Alliance (ECCCA), and comprises the NKI-AVL Institute in Amsterdam, the Institut Gustave Roussy in Paris and Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet.

They have already started work together, and will use different technologies and tools to identify promising agents for medical application.

The ECCCA presented its strategy at a launch symposium this month and announced its first three clinical trials.

Three new radiation techniques

Each institute has submitted a trial that will then be carried out at all three sites, and all will use a combination of innovative radiation techniques.

The trial initiated in Paris will combine radiotherapy for locally advanced non-metastatic cancer, sequential radio-chemotherapy, and also use of Certican, made by Novartis, which can be used to inhibit tumours.

The first objective is to assess the safety of the combination, and it will be monitored with metabolic imaging.

The trial from Sweden involves Stereotactic Body radiotherapy (SBRT) for advanced lung cancer, for use alongside pharmaceutical treatment.

With SBRT, tumours are irradiated with high precision to spare damage to surrounding healthy tissue – a technology pioneered at Karolinska and now tested for various tumour indications.

In the new trial SBRT will be given to both tumours before conventional chemotherapy, to prolong the patient's survival and also to counteract tumour related symptoms.

The trial from Holland is to use new 'image-guided' radiotherapy, developed for breast-conserving treatment. The aim is that only the tumour, instead of the whole breast, is irradiated.

The group say the application of its combined knowledge and facilities mean that data from the trials will be rapidly processed.

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