New Research Centre to improve personalized treatment for Danish patients with blood cancers – University of Copenhagen

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01 November 2018

New Research Centre to improve personalized treatment for Danish patients with blood cancers

Precicion medicine

With a grant of DKK 20 million from the national Knæk Cancer-collection 2018, the new “Danish Research Center for Precision Medicine in Blood Cancers” will be established at UCPH. While the new research centre will be based at the Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC), it is a collaboration between researchers at BRIC/Finsen Lab/DanStem and clinicians from hematological departments from all over the country.

The aim of the centre is to improve the treatment of patients with hematological cancers by testing and developing drugs that can target individual patients’ cancer stem cells. The initial focus of the research centre will be the diseases Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) – which are both rare but very serious cancers of the blood

The center is closely related to the NNF funded Program for Translational Hematology at Danstem. The Knæk Cancer grant will  primarily focus on the clinical expansion and will ensure that patients and researchers  nation-wide benefit from the infrastructure that is already being established in the Program for Translational Hematology.  In this way,  the centre will encompass all aspects from basic research to treatment of patients and the development of new drugs.

- We want to improve the treatment, the quality of life and the survival rate of patients with MDS and AML. This will be carried out through a nationwide and coordinated collaboration, so that all patients can be offered the same kind of personalized treatment regardless of where they live, says professor and Chief Physician Kirsten Grønbæk, who is the leader of the new research centre.

A main goal of the centre will be to establish both a biobank with clinical samples from patients with MDS and AML and a drug screening unit, which is currently under construction at Rigshospitalet/BRIC. The drug screening unit will allow researchers to expose cancer stem cells from individual patients to more than 400 types of drugs.

- In that way, we hope to identify the drugs that most effectively target the cancer stem cells of the individual patient, as these cells are the reason the cancer recurs.  At the same time, we will try to identify the biomarkers to stratify patients for correct treatment, says Kirsten Grønbæk.

While The Danish Cancer Research Center for Precision Medicine in Blood Cancers will initially focus on MDS and AML, Kirsten Grønbæk hopes that the centre will eventually be able to encompass all types of hematological cancers.