Joint Call (JTC 2016)

Call for proposals on “Minimally and non-invasive methods for early detection and/or progression of cancer”

Call for proposals on “Minimally and non-invasive methods for early detection and/or progression of cancer”

TRANSCAN-2 is launching its third Joint Transnational Call for research proposals (JTC 2016) on the topic:

 “Minimally and non-invasive methods for early detection and/or progression of cancer ”

The following funding organisations have agreed to participate in JTC 2016:

- Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), Belgium, Flanders
- Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS), Belgium, French speaking community
- Estonian Research Council (ETAg), Estonia
- National Cancer Institute (INCa), France
- ARC French Foundation for Cancer Research (ARC Foundation), France
- Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany
- General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT), Greece
- The Chief Scientist Office of the Ministry of Health (CSO-MOH), Israel
- Ministry of Health (MoH), Italy
- Alliance Against Cancer (ACC), Italy
- Lombardy Foundation for Biomedical Research (FRRB), Italy
- State Education Development Agency (VIAA), Latvia
- Dutch Cancer Society (DCS), Netherlands
- Research Council of Norway (RCN), Norway
- Norwegian Cancer Society (NSC), Norway
- National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), Poland
- Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS), Slovakia
- Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (MIZS), Slovenia
- Spanish Association Against Cancer Scientific Foundation (AECC FC), Spain
- National Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII), Spain
- The Foundation for the Support of the Applied Scientific Research and Technology in Asturias (FICYT), Spain
- Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), Taiwan
- Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK), Turkey

The call is published simultaneously by the funding organisations in their respective countries and on the TRANSCAN website.

Interested researchers and/or research teams are advised to prepare and make the necessary contacts and arrangements towards preparing applications. Please see below the details of the call topics and an outline of the eligibility criteria.

The Dutch Cancer Society acts as Joint Call Secretariat (JCS) to coordinate the application and selection process of JTC 2016.

Aims of the Call

The third call of TRANSCAN-2 (JTC 2016) focuses on: “Minimally and non-invasive methods for early detection and/or progression of cancer”.

Minimally invasive methods refer to techniques that have limited physical damage, burden and pain associated with the detection method, resulting in less anticipated stress, a higher screening/clinical care uptake, and more efficient and cost-effective screening and care.

The studied methods should be sensitive for early detection of cancer, its staging and prediction of progression. Examples are: individual or combination of molecular, immunochemical, proteomic or genetic markers in body fluids and blood or cell samples, as well as macroscopic, microscopic and molecular imaging techniques (e.g. improved ultrasound technology, molecular imaging with contrast agents, fluorescence imaging, radiolabelling).

This call excludes invasive methods, such as image-guided biopsy or surgery.

In the context of translational cancer research, this topic will comprise three specific aims. Proposals will have to cover at least one of the specific areas listed under each undermentioned aim.

Aim 1: Risk stratification to distinguish groups by susceptibility for development or progression of cancer based on molecular biomarkers and established cancer risk factors, such as age, medical history, anthropometrics (e.g., body mass index, waist circumference), and lifestyle related determinants (e.g., diet, physical exercise, environmental exposure and medication).

- Risk stratification for cancer development (susceptibility to develop cancer) using minimally invasive methods (imaging, biomarkers assessment in body fluids) to identify high risk groups of individuals who will benefit most from a more intensive and/or invasive screening.

- Risk stratification for cancer progression (biomarker(s) or clinical characteristic(s) with a prognostic value, i.e. that provides information on the likely outcome of the cancer in (untreated) individuals). Detection of tumour promoting subpopulations, those with enhanced ability to drive tumour progression.

Aim 2: Validation of multiparametric methods, using the combination of promising[1] biomarkers (genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and imaging markers) to improve our capability for early detection or progression of cancer.

Different tumour markers show different sensitivity towards different types of tumours. Combining multiple markers significantly increases the ratios of positive cancer diagnosis. Even though the increase in sensitivity when combining markers and tools might be accompanied by a decrease in specificity, tumour markers combinations may still play an important role in early tumour detection as well as in prediction of cancer progression.

As high throughput genomic assays become more accessible, working with largescale data sets requires user-friendly and powerful tools and techniques to help researchers manage, analyse and integrate big data from genomics. The development and implementation of adequate bioinformatics techniques are of essential importance. Biomarkers that are suitable for automated measurement are promising tools.

- Molecular tumour markers: increase sensitivity of detecting genetic, epigenetic or proteomic markers, including circulating tumour cells (CTC techniques), exosomes, tumour DNA, circulating free DNA in plasma and other fluids, micro RNA and integration with metabolomic assays.

- Imaging markers: such as low radiation CT scans or intravenously delivered fluorescent peptide probes.

- Bioinformatics techniques: techniques for mining complex genomic/biomarkers data.

[1] Biomarkers that already have shown to have predictive value, but need to be validated in an independent heterogeneous target population.

Aim 3: Improve clinical evidence of the minimally invasive methods.

Important criteria to evaluate a biomarker are described in the ACCE model. It is important to acknowledge these criteria when describing the outcome measures and future directions of the project plan.

- Analytical validity, clinical validity, and clinical utility: evaluation (or describe the planning) of the impact of minimally invasive methods on patient outcome (less invasive detection, increased life expectancy, or reduced morbidity) and properties such as sensitivity and specificity.

Ethical, legal, and social implications (could also be considered): evaluation of implication and implementation aspects, e.g. acceptance of personalised screening based on risk stratification.

Application and Selection Process

TRANSCAN-2 JTC 2016 will be implemented through a two-stage submission procedure: pre-proposals and full proposals. Both pre- and full proposals must be written in English and must be submitted to the JCS by the coordinator through the electronic submission system ( exclusively.

In preparing the proposals, applicants should strictly follow the rules described in the JTC 2016 call text and in the document entitled “Guidelines for Applicants”. Applicants should take note of individual national/regional rules, and contact their national/regional contact points for specific questions.

The pre-proposals must be submitted to the electronic submission system no later than the 13th of February 2017, at 16:00 (Central European Time, CET). The information relating to the selected pre-proposals will be communicated to each coordinator by 28th April 2017.

The information provided in the pre-proposal application is binding for the entire application process. Thus, any substantial changes between the pre-proposal and the full proposal (e.g. composition of the consortia, objectives of the project, etc.) must be communicated in advance to the JCS with detailed justification and will only be allowed by the CSC under exceptional circumstances.

The full proposals will have to be submitted to the electronic submission system not later than the 7th of June 2017 at 16:00 (Central European Summer Time, CEST). Please note that full proposals will only be accepted from applicants explicitly invited by the JCS to submit.

The decision on the results of the full proposals evaluation meeting will be communicated to all the (successful and unsuccessful) coordinators in October 2017. The coordinators of the full proposals will receive a summary of the evaluation conclusions in due time.

Applicants may request funding for individual grants according to national/regional rules.

Please note that, for applicants from some countries/regions, it may be necessary to submit their proposals and/or other information not only to the JCS, but also to their relevant national/regional funding organisations. Therefore, applicants are strongly advised to check with their national/regional funding organisations for more details (see Call text, Annex 4: National/Regional Regulations and Contact Information).

Based on the time required for the approval process for granting funds to the respective national/regional research groups, individual projects of a research consortium are expected to start in April 2018.

Planned Call Schedule

Preliminary announcement of the JTC 2016: 3 October 2016

Publication of the JTC 2016: 2 December 2016

Opening of electronic submission system for pre-proposals: 2 December 2016

Deadline for electronic pre-proposals submission: 13 February 2017

Deadline for electronic full proposals submission: 7 June 2017

Communication of final evaluation result and funding decision: October 2017

Start of funded research projects: April 2018