Researchers at Dutch universities can spend the coming years working with industry to realise new steps in the fight against cancer. Eight research groups have received funding so that scientists and companies can work together on technical innovations for the prevention, diagnosis and better treatment of cancer. Top Sector Life Sciences & Health, NWO and the Dutch Cancer Society have invested 5.4 million euros in the projects; the companies and organisations involved are contributing more than 1.5 million euros.
The projects have received funding within the research programme Technology for Oncology II. In this programme, the collaboration between researchers from the fields of oncology and technology together with industrial partners is important. This combination must lead to new breakthroughs in the area of prevention, diagnostics, treatment and quality of life for (future) cancer patients. The multidisciplinary consortia possess all of the expertise needed to further develop the project results and actually implement these in clinical practice.
The eight research projects awarded funding focus on various challenges. For example, a new MRI method is being worked on that can image changes in the growth and energy metabolism of the tumour. That allows the effectiveness of the treatment for the individual patient to be established at an early stage. In another project, an advanced laparoscope is being developed that can be used to visualise the tumour tissue during the operation. This should result in less tumour tissue being left behind and less damage to healthy tissue. A third project aims to develop a self-learning system for breast cancer patients. This system will combine medical data with data about functioning in daily life and will provide personal recommendations for cancer-related fatigue.
More than 20 companies and research organisations are involved in the research projects. About half of those are partners from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). An overview of the projects awarded funding can be found below:
- Non-Ionizing Metabolic Imaging (NIMI) using robust phosphorus MRI to predict treatment efficacy - Prof. dr. ir. D.W.J. Klomp, UMC Utrecht (17907)
- Smart Laparoscopes for Oncologic surgery - Prof. dr. T. Ruers, The Netherlands Cancer Institute/Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital (17908)
- aiREAD – Accurate and Intelligent Reading for EArlier breast cancer Detection - Dr. I. Sechopoulos, Radboudumc (17912)
- Probing Intercellular heterogeneity in Circulating TUmor cells of de novo metastatic Hormone Sensitive Prostate CanceR patiEntS (PICTURES) - Prof. dr. L.W.M.M. Terstappen, University of Twente (17915)
- Learning-based Control in MR-guided Hyperthermia for 3D Adaptive Cancer Therapy (Learn-2-Act) - Prof. dr. ir. W.P.M.H. Heemels, Eindhoven University of Technology (17918)
- ARCHITECT: Adaptive Brachytherapy using Customised Needle Applicators - Dr. R.A. Nout, Leiden University (17921)
- AMICUS: AI in Medical Imaging for novel Cancer User Support - Dr. ir. A.L.A.J. Dekker, Maastricht University (17924)
- PARTNR - Personalized cAnceR TreatmeNt and CaRe platform - Prof. dr. M.M.R. Vollenbroek-Hutten, University of Twente (17927)
NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES), the Dutch Cancer Society and Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (Health~Holland) are investing in the programme Technology for Oncology II. These parties have awarded a total of more than 5.4 million euros to the eight research projects.
In 2015, NWO Domain AES, the Dutch Cancer Society and Top Sector LSH organised the first Partnership programme Technology for Oncology with the aim of bringing together technical and oncological researchers in the fight against cancer. Eleven research projects received funding for the development of technical innovations for the prevention and treatment of cancer. The success of this first programme resulted in a second research programme around this theme.
Technology for Oncology is a so-called Partnership programme. The basic premise of Partnership programmes is a research question from companies or health foundations, for which scientists at universities can submit a research proposal. Both the NWO Domain AES and the Top Sector LSH have previously established various public-private partnership programmes with health foundations including the Dutch Heart Foundation and the Dutch Kidney Foundation. Furthermore, AES ensures that during the research, the scientists and partners involved regularly meet to monitor developments and possible applications.