The call on rare cancers was motivated by the consideration that diagnostic and therapeutic
management of affected patients may pose particularly difficult challenges, mainly related
to the small numbers of patients’ cohorts and difficulties in referring patients to large
centers with multidisciplinary expertise. The low incidence of these diseases tends to
significantly constrain the ability of performing studies with adequate statistical power.
Additionally, low numbers inevitably translate into a limited availability of high quality,
clinically annotated, bio-specimen samples necessary to explore the underlying molecular
mechanisms of the diseases. The abovementioned limitations have a negative impact on
the number of treatments, thus affecting patients’ outcomes. Based on the RARECAREnet
(http://www.rarecarenet.eu/) definition, rare cancers are those with an incidence rate of <6
per 100,000 per year in the European population.
Main translational research goals in rare cancers are achieved through studies of cohorts
of patients with available biospecimens linked to cancer registry data.
The aims of the call were related to:
1) Design and conduct of translational research studies exploiting/combining resources
from current clinical trials, bio-repositories and epidemiology-type resources;
2) Development and exploitation of translational research platforms (e.g., patient derived
xenograft models/organoids/tissue collections) to study drug responses/resistance and
toxicity, and perform drug screens or repurpose approved anticancer drugs;
3) Implementation of precision biomarkers for better stratification of the clinical cohorts.
The JTC 2017 has raised interest among the scientific community: 92 research proposals,
involving 429 multidisciplinary teams from 17 countries, were received.
At the end of the evaluation process, 12 transnational projects were selected for funding, with a total allocated budget of € 14.87 million.