CONTICANET – Un réseau d’excellence pour structurer la recherche sur les cancers rares des tissus mous, en Europe

Fiche  technique du Projet

• Programme de financement: 7e PCRD – programme Coopération – Santé – Réseau D’excellence
• Coordinateur: Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Prof. Jean-Yves BLAY
• Partenaires :
o Allgemeines Krankenhaus St Georg (DE)
o National University of Ireland, Cork, University College Cork (IE)
o Erasmus University Medical Centre (NL)
o The Institute of Cancer Research (UK)
o Institut Gustave Roussy (FR)
o Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumouri (IT)
o Ipsogen SAS (FR)
o Laboratory for Biotechnology & Applied Pharmacology (FR)
o Institute of Oncology Ljubljana (SL)
o PharmaMar SA (ES)
o Sanofi-Aventis (FR)
o Universita’Degli Studi Di Padova (IT)
o Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Gasthuisberg (BE)
o Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Saint-Louis (FR)
o Lyon Ingénierie Projets (FR)
o Institut Bergonié (FR)
o Institut Curie (FR)
o Universitätsklinikum Mannheim (DE)

• Budget Total: € 9.432.600
• Subvention : € 9.432.600
• Durée : 2006-2011

Context / Contexte

Connective tissue cancers, and more specifically sarcomas, GIST, aggressive fibromatosis and hamartomas, are uncommon cancers with an incidence below 2/100 000 per year in the EU affecting children, young adults and adults. At a national level, the limited number of cases (about 7/10 000 in Europe each year) does not allow Europe to have a critical mass of researchers and the supporting environment to progress in the disease understanding and management and to have access to new drugs and treatments. Europe, however, has proven with research made on GIST, through the EORTC-STBSG group, that gathering workforces can achieve significant progress. CONTICANET will create the critical mass of key stakeholders to overcome the current difficulties in terms of lack of data and data fragmentation, mobility of researchers, heterogeneity of methodologies and legislations. Involving 20 partners – major comprehensive cancer centres, academia and private companies – over a period of five years, CONTICANET will gather the critical mass of resources and knowledge in the understanding, diagnosis and clinical management of connective tissue cancers, at the same time opening new therapeutic options.

Objectives / objectifs

CONTICANET aims at setting up a Network of Excellence as a vehicle to create the critical mass of researchers, clinicians and industrialists able to:
• improve the understanding of carcinogenesis and tumour progression of connective tissue cancers in adults and children and specifically of sarcomas, GIST, aggressive fibromatosis and hamartomas
• develop new diagnostic tools, prevention strategies and treatments for these connective tissue cancers in adults and children.

CONTICANET will 1) start by providing the required environment for developing joint research activities through the development of standard operating procedures (SOP), distributed databases, tissue banks and harmonisation of ongoing and previous research projects, to promote complementarity and perform parallel research programmes according to similar SOPs – then 2) provide the infrastructure to test several drug candidates and perform European wide exploratory clinical trials while implementing a federated research policy to 3) further lead to an integrated sustainable structure – a European research foundation – able to support integrated research actions and make new treatments available. CONTICANET will spread excellence in several directions: enlarging the network with other academic and private organisations; developing working sessions with EMEA, health authorities and insurances in order to optimise the availability of new therapeutic options; supporting and collaborating with patients through advocacy groups and cancer leagues.

Impact/ results – Impact/résultats

CONTICANET will provide a basis for the development of new treatments and, from an industrial point of view, to:
• establish synergisms between data and models acquired by academics and drug development from the pharmaceutical industry to improve therapeutic options for both adults and children
• validate some of those options with competent authorities as a model for orphan disease.

Finally CONTICANET will generate three different types of results:
• An organisation gathering key stakeholders in connective tissue cancer research and able to perform significant progress in the disease understanding and management through jointly performed studies in the fields of epidemiology, molecular biology research, clinical research, drug development. This organisation will take the form of an international non-profit association gathering all network participants. This association will then in a second step evolves towards a research foundation open to new members and to sponsors. By involving pharmaceutical companies and with the objective of extending the approach to other uncommon cancers, such a foundation will be self-sustained through the contributions of its members and the support to be obtained form the industry through the development of orphan disease models.

• The delineation of methods, tools and activities which will be developed within the network and supporting the integration of the research activities of the participants and which will be shared among participants and ultimately beyond the network to strengthen research in this field:
– Distributed standardised repository of tissues, data, information
supporting research activities
– Standardised Operating Procedures (SOP) at European level
– Common pool of facilities: instruments, platforms, drugs, diagnostic tools, etc.
– Collaborative platform for data transfer and validation and collaborative work
– Network for pharmacodynamics based clinical trials
– Standardised validated screening tools (ex vivo & in vivo)
– Pharmacovigilance network

• Public health research coupled with education aiming to understand the determinants of medical practice in order to propose innovative education strategies to improve patient management and follow up. Knowledge gained in this field will be disseminated within the network and beyond by the key opinion leaders present in the network in their respective countries

Thus the CONTICANET network is expected to develop on the long term a stable structured European research organisation on uncommon cancers and could possibly serve as a model for other rare diseases.

Le rôle de LIP 

LIP est partenaire du projet en charge du management administratif et financier du projet. LIP a également contribué à la pérennisation du réseau, sous la forme d’un Fond de Dotation.