Large European grant to make personalised cancer treatment widely available

6 April 2023
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A European consortium, led by Prof. Hans Gelderblom of Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) on behalf of the Drug Rediscovery Protocol team, will receive 3 million euros to tailor future cancer treatments to the genetic profile of the tumour. A European follow-up grant of 6 million euros has now also been awarded.

Mapping a tumour's genetic profile and choosing the most appropriate treatment based on it: the researchers of the awarded Personalised Cancer Medicine for EU (PCM4EU) project see it as their mission to make this available to every patient with cancer. They are therefore very happy with this large grant from the EU4Health programme. "We can now better roll out our successful approach to other countries," says Gelderblom. The first meeting recently took place at the LUMC.

New treatment options

The approach refers to the Drug Rediscovery Protocol (DRUP), a study led by Prof. Emile Voest of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Prof. Henk Verheul of Erasmus MC and Prof. Gelderblom. This approach entails that medication that is already used and registered, will be tested in patients with a tumor type for which the drug is not (yet) registered. This is because many cancer patients have genetic mutations in their tumors for which there might already be a drug on the market. But they have no access to these drugs because it is only registered for other tumor types.

The DRUP study has already led to new treatment options for several tumors, and in some cases to reimbursement by health insurers. Meanwhile, about 1300 patients have been treated and 35 drugs are available. In 33% of the patients who participate, the researchers see that the treatment is effective. "These are very good results for a study of personalised treatments in patients for whom there is no approved treatment available."


Adapting treatment to the genetic profile of the tumour has many advantages, but it is far from being used everywhere, including in the Netherlands. According to Gelderblom, this is due to lack of knowledge and unequal access to molecular diagnostics, which is used to identify the genetic tumor profile. "Education is therefore also a big part of our joint project," he says.

The best treatment for all

The Dutch DRUP team collaborates in this consortium with 17 institutions in several European countries, and especially the cooperation with the Scandinavian countries is already well advanced. "We make our protocols available and each country appoints a project manager to work on this. In this way, we are not only making molecular diagnostics more accessible, but also creating a larger database of patients from which we can gain new knowledge. 

With this European grant, the researchers aim to lay the foundations for personalised cancer treatments in each country to make this available to all Europeans.