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Posted on Friday, May 04 @ 16:01:55 EEST by admin
For The Public
The InflaCare project: information for the public (March 2007)

The Infla-Care project: European science towards cancer therapy  

Most of us know of someone whose life has been affected by cancer. Despite advances in medical research over recent decades, the disease remains a principal cause of death in developed countries, causing almost 1 in 5 deaths in the European Union.

The term ‘cancer’ covers a range of disorders, all of which involve uncontrolled division of cells or ‘building blocks’ of the body. These cancer cells can grow to form a tumour in the body and in some cases they may travel to another site in the body to form secondary tumours by metastasis.

Today, specific treatments are available for individual types of cancer and this progress over recent decades means that today more people are surviving in the short term after cancer diagnosis. However, these existing treatments, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are often not a long term cure and their side effects have a huge impact for the lives of cancer sufferers.

With increased life expectancy in the European Union and a swelling forecast in the over-50 age group of the population in European countries, it is essential to continue to tackle the problem of cancer and search for therapies with greater efficacy and minimal side effects. The European Union periodically invites proposals for funding from researchers willing to develop scientific research on a cooperative basis between EU countries and beyond.

Some cancers are already known to be associated with chronic inflammation such as liver cancer with hepatitis or colon cancer with colitis, but it is suspected that many more cancers are associated with a low level or sub-clinical form of inflammation that usually goes undetected. If this proves correct, then a better understanding of the implications of inflammation could give scientists a whole new arsenal with which to prevent and tackle cancer.

INFLA-CARE is one of the projects funded by the Framework Program 7 (FP7) of the European Commission for Life Sciences & Health.  The INFLA-CARE consortium was the brain-child of Ari Eliopoulos, Programme Director, who recognised the short-fall in scientific knowledge in how we understand inflammation and cancer. With the idea of bringing research groups together in a partnership, Dr Eliopoulos contacted the scientists and clinicians who now make up INFLA-CARE, to invite them to join a consortium which would seek funding from the EC. The result is a collaboration of research between experts from 9 European countries and from Israel, which includes scientists involved in basic research and biotechnology as well as oncologists, whose day to day work brings them in contact with cancer patients in hospital clinics.

How does this scientific network function? INFLA-CARE met for the first time in 2007 in Athens to plan how the group could work together most effectively, drawing on the strengths of the expertise of individual members to create the potential for a consortium that could make a huge impact in scientific knowledge and patient care, if it achieved funding. In 2008 the EC announced that INFLA-CARE was successful in its bid for funding and the programme was officially activated in January 2009, from which date it will run for 4 years.

Each INFLA-CARE scientist has a clearly defined schedule of scientific research planned for the period of the grant, and frequently this involves working with other scientists from the consortium. In this way, INFLA-CARE research is a complex web of interactions between groups facilitating the acquisition of knowledge and exchange of ideas.

INFLA-CARE meets once a year typically over a 2 or 3 day period to present research progress and discuss progress in the project. Present at these annual meetings are the Scientific Advisory Board which is comprised of three internationally renowned scientists or clinicians, who give independent advice and guidance on the development of the programme. Additionally, each group must submit a yearly review to the European Commission to confirm progress and outstanding scientific results are submitted for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The project however, has scope beyond the laboratory bench; it embraces the concept of translational research – making the lab results about how cancers form become directly relevant to patient treatment.  If as we believe, inflammation is behind the formation of many more types of tumour than originally thought, INFLA-CARE could find novel treatments for patients which are applicable to a wide range of tumours, with minimal side effects.

Specifically, the project will study inflammatory cells and other molecules present in the area of the tumour and inflamed tissue, to unravel the chemical messages that are sent, within cells and between cells, to ultimately identify potential new targets for therapy.

Additionally by looking at tissue samples stored in archives, INFLA-CARE will investigate the nature of the progression from normal to inflamed and cancerous tissue. Another component of the programme will use cutting edge technology to consider how changes in our genes coding can relate to how patients progress with cancer disease and how they will respond to therapy.



CD40, cancer, therapy, PI3 kinase, immunotherapy, gene therapy, signaling, European Commission Program, FP6, Virtual Medical Lab, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete

Designed by: George Savakis for Virtual Medical Lab (Faculty of Medicine - Univercity of Crete)