International Consortia

We have participated in the following consortia of excellence, a reflection of VHIO’s expertise in preclinical, translational and clinical research in oncology.

Academic International Consortia

Cancer Core Europe (CCE) is a unique partnership aimed at addressing the cancer care–cancer research continuum challenge. Launched in 2014, this working consortium represents a critical mass of activity for the successful integration of all cancer care information, clinical research and outcome research, led by the six founding partners and European comprehensive cancer centers of excellence: the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus Grand Paris (Villejuif, France), Cambridge Cancer Centre (Cambridge, UK), Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden), Netherlands Cancer Institute – NKI (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), National Center for Tumor Diseases – DKFZ-NCT (Heidelberg, Germany) and VHIO, as well as the National Cancer Institute of Milan (Italy).

CEE promotes the pooling and exchange of expertise, research findings, common platforms and processes, and empowers researchers and clinicians to rapidly exploit this trove of biological insights and clinical data for the benefit of patients. The year 2019 saw the official launch of the Basket of Baskets (BoB) two-stage clinical trial study, endorsed by CCE, promising a more flexible and adaptive model in order to significantly accelerate patients’ access to an array of novel therapeutics.

The EuroPDX Consortium, Translating Knowledge in Oncology, was launched in 2013 to create a network of clinically relevant models of human cancer, in particular patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. Connecting 18 cancer centers across 13 countries that are developing PDX cancer models, this initiative promotes the sharing and exchange of findings on promising therapeutics and leads multicenter preclinical studies. EuroPDX strives to reduce the duplication of efforts in oncology drug development and ultimately improve the quality of life and overall survival of cancer patients.

Supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and launched in 2018, EDIReX (EurOPDX Distributed Infrastructure for Research on patient-derived cancer Xenografts) is led by the EuroPDX Consortium and backed by the research excellence of 19 entities – including VHIO – from across 13 European countries. The main aims of this project are to facilitate data exchange among academic and industrial preclinical and translational cancer professionals and to spur and consolidate scientific collaborations in PDX research across Europe.

WIN – Worldwide Innovative Networking in personalized cancer medicine, initiated by the Institut Gustave Roussy (France) and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA), is a non-profit, non-governmental organization incorporating 39 leading organizations representing all stakeholders in personalized cancer medicine covering 21 countries and 4 continents, united by their vision to deliver on the promise of effective, personalized cancer medicine to patients worldwide. Under the tagline WINning together, WIN was formed on the premise that members can accomplish more together than each organization can achieve working alone. Aimed at improving cancer patients’ survival and quality of life, WIN members also collaboratively design and carry out global studies designed to achieve breakthroughs for cancer patients across the globe.

SPECTA is a collaborative European platform that helps deliver high-quality, molecular and pathological screening across tumor types to aid patient selection into clinical trials. The platform provides an integrated and shared mechanism, with rapid access to patient data and biological samples to enable the quick implementation of new clinical trials and robust translational research.

The European University Hospital Alliance was formed in 2017 with the commitment of nine of the best university hospitals in Europe to share their expertise in health care, research and education.

University hospitals play an important role in driving innovation and translating this into practice. Through this alliance, its members aim to play an active role in shaping the future of European health care, learn from each other to maximize patient outcomes and combine efforts to drive high-quality research.

Private International Consortia

The AstraZeneca VHIO Alliance announced in 2015 and the MedImmune VHIO Alliance launched in 2018 drive advancements at preclinical, clinical and translational research levels across AstraZeneca’s oncology portfolio. Combining VHIO’s strengths in promoting cancer discovery through the integration of translational science and clinical research with AstraZeneca’s promising early-stage oncology pipeline, the alliance focuses on areas including DNA damage repair, drug resistance, new drug combinations and molecular profiles for patient selection.

Launched by Roche in 2016, the imCORE (immunotherapy Centers of Research Excellence) Network, a 21-strong academic powerhouse set to further discovery in cancer immunotherapy, brings together internationally renowned scientific and clinical experts in cancer immunotherapy to collaborate in investigating the most promising novel treatment approaches. Working in collaboration with scientists from Roche and Genentech, researchers and physician-scientists in cancer immunotherapy from across the globe aim to drive the application and extension of immune-based strategies to more tumor types, as well as advance research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms modulating immune response to cancer. The network was designed to significantly advance anti-cancer immunotherapeutics and accelerate discovery towards benefiting patients who may stand to gain from novel immune agents such as mono- or combination therapy.

The OCTC (Oncology Clinical and Translational Consortium), a collaborative scientific research network comprised of six renowned comprehensive cancer centers, was launched by GSK in 2013. While through the OCTC GSK gains expertise in preclinical, translational and clinical development of novel anticancer therapeutics, the participating centers gain access to studies with GSK’s early-stage oncology pipeline and have access to opportunities to accelerate and advance the next generation of novel oncology therapeutics.

The SCITRON Consortium (Public-Private Consortium for Scientific Translational Research in Oncology) is a scientific program established in collaboration with Novartis in 2017 as a new model of R&D collaboration. This initiative connects expertise from Novartis and VHIO in applied and translational research to increase the impact of basic research in clinical practice. The specific areas of interest include the development of a technology platform that analyzes tumor clonal evolution and resistance mechanisms to targeted immunotherapy.

International Project Consortia

COLOSSUS (Advancing a Precision Medicine Paradigm in metastatic Colorectal Cancer: Systems-based patient stratification solutions), is a multi-center European Commission Horizon 2020-supported project powered by 14 leading clinical investigators and researchers spanning 8 European countries, with expertise in cancer immunology, systems biology, computational modeling, bioinformatics, omics analysis, clinical oncology/pathology, preclinical research, medical imaging, clinical trials, health economics and patient management. This five-year undertaking aims to better classify and treat metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Focused on microsatellite-stable RAS-mutant (MSS RAS mt) disease – a genetically identified type of CRC with very few therapeutic options available once patients develop resistance to existing chemotherapies – the COLOSSUS team strives to both expand and refine the classification of this particular subset of colorectal cancer.

Announced at the beginning of 2019, the OPTIMISTICC Grand Challenge (Opportunity To Investigate the Microbiome’s Impact on Science and Treatment In Colorectal Cancer) is a five-year consortium funded by Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge, led by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute-Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (USA). Aimed at better understanding the difference between a healthy microbiome and a microbiome associated with the development of colorectal cancer, the co-investigators from the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, and Spain are seeking to identify ways to manipulate this collection of microorganisms to better prevent and treat cancer. It is thanks to Grand Challenge funding that the project partners, including VHIO, are able to pool the necessary expertise in order to establish how the microbiome influences a cancer’s response to treatment, develop new treatments that alter the microbiome, and decipher how an individual’s external environment may affect their microbiome.

EUCanCAN, the European-Canadian Cancer Network, led by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (Spain), comprises a total of 18 partners from 5 different countries to pursue the homogeneous analysis, management and exchange of genomic-driven oncology data to advance precision medicine in cancer. Jointly funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, this project strives to provide a functional platform for federated genome analysis systems towards efficiently analyzing, managing, sharing and reusing mass genomic data at the global level. The participating reference nodes seek to process, store and share between 30-35 thousand patient samples across various tumor types. This consortium also promises to drive discovery into robust and clinically-relevant patterns of genomic variation in cancer, including predictive biomarkers.

Immune-Image is a 22 stakeholder-strong consortium incorporating public and private partners across 9 countries, including VHIO and the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR) from Spain. Powered by the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking (IMI 2 JU), this initiative is led by Roche and coordinated by the Amsterdam University Medical Center UVmC in the Netherlands. Set to run for an initial duration of five years, this project, “Specific imaging of immune cell dynamics using novel tracer strategies”, seeks to develop a novel non-invasive imaging strategy for assessing immune cell activation and dynamics in oncology and inflammatory disease. Main deliverables include developing clinically validated radio and optical immunotracers for the monitoring and measurement of immune cell presence, activation status and trafficking, and designing and implementing a ready-to-use sustainable molecular imaging platform, incorporating standardized protocols, best practices, quantitative image analyses, and immune-based tracking design and development.

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, the CELAC and the European Consortium for a Personalized Medicine Approach to Gastric Cancer (LEGACy) is a 4-year project spearhead by INCLIVA Health Research Institute (Spain), in partnership with 10 other members, including VHIO, across 9 different countries. Focused on advancing personalized medicine against gastric cancer, this project aims to improve diagnosis and treatment by using data obtained through extensive research in four EU countries and four countries within the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), improving outcomes by applying personalized medicine at the three levels of prevention. This consortium seeks to implement a personalized medicine strategy at the first level of prevention, improve early gastric cancer detection at the second level of prevention, and improve treatment through the identification of high-risk populations.

RAD51predict is a diagnostic test to accurately select patients with cancer who could benefit from a novel and very effective targeted therapy using what are known as PARP inhibitors. These drugs are currently approved for specific subtypes of breast and ovarian cancer and it is estimated that over ten percent of all cancer patients could benefit from PARP inhibitors.

To date, the selection of patients is primarily based on prior platinum sensitivity and genetic tests. These tests have demonstrated a limited predictive value and restrict the use of PARP inhibitors to specific tumor subtypes. Therefore, novel predictive biomarkers are needed.

RAD51predict is a quick and low-cost immunoassay that identifies key biomarkers in tumor cells. This new diagnostic test will help to extend the use of PARP inhibitors to novel indications and guide oncologists with treatment recommendations. Overall, RAD51predict will contribute to personalizing the treatment of patients with cancer.

MESI-STRAT combines the expertise of 14 partners from 6 European countries to establish the interplay of breast cancer metabolism and oncogenic signaling (metabolic signaling) through systems medicine approaches. Aimed at developing new models for knowledge-based stratification of patients into subgroups with different endocrine therapy resistance mechanisms, this Pan-European 57-month project, supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, represents an important step forward towards improving outcomes for these patients.

The team uses breast cancer metabolism as a novel approach for the stratification of patients, the tracking of resistance and better guidance of clinical decision-making throughout the course of endocrine therapy. Through the development of new computational models in combination with network analyses, pharmacogenomics and integrated multi-omics data, MESI-

STRAT plays a decisive role in better deciphering the metabolic and signaling networks that drive resistance to endocrine-based therapies.

Funded through a grant received from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, NoCanTher (Nanomedicine upscaling for early clinical phases of multimodal cancer therapy) is a multi-center consortium led by IMDEA Nanoscience and represents an important step forward in utilizing nanoparticles than can better target and more precisely combat cancer cells. It builds on the preclinical successes reported by the former FP7-funded MultiFun Consortium, which evidenced the efficacy of a multi-modal therapeutic approach based on functionalized magnetic nanoparticles and magnetic hyperthermia for the intra-tumoral treatment of breast and pancreatic tumors.

Connecting 11 leading European research centers, including industry partners, NoCanTher assesses this nano-based approach and provides preliminary data on its efficacy in humans. It aim to translate these preclinical findings into early clinical development for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The PhD PI3K biology in health & disease Network incorporates 10 academic, clinical and industrial partners with renowned expertise in research focused on PI3K signaling. Leading a unique training network, this collaboration connects complementary expertise and brings together additional value, novel tools and leadership of excellence in order to train talented early-stage researchers and suitably equip them for leading roles in cancer science and drug discovery in European industry and academia. This research training program not only represents an unparalleled educational opportunity for these young scientists, but also aims to increase the international competitiveness of European research in PI3K discovery and drug development.