Translational research

The Personalised Cancer Medicine (PCM) Program at Karolinska Institutet

KICancer is coordinating this program starting autumn 2014.

A major future focus of translational cancer research will be the development of "Personalised Cancer Medicine (PCM)." This treatment and diagnostic concept requires a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research effort supported by a well-functioning infrastructure where the discovery and validation of disease biomarkers play a central role.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers (CCC) are important concepts to improve successful translation of cancer research. The organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI) has established an accreditation system guided by specific criteria defining the requirements for being a CCC. Currently much of the organisation and infrastructure required for PCM and the realization of a CCC for translational cancer research and clinical oncology are not in place at KI/Karolinska University Hospital according to a feasibility study commissioned by the Cancer Research Foundation of Radiumhemmet. Early translational cancer research is difficult, and late translational cancer research that should validate new modalities of diagnosis and treatment, and evaluate their implementation in health care faces even greater difficulties. At the same time several important resources and competencies are available; the cancer research community is strong with many research groups that perform well. Important discoveries from KI need to reach clinical validation.

To meet these challenges the PCM Program will propose a work plan with the main objective to identify potential areas of excellence in translational cancer research at Karolinska and promote their development in order to reach excellence. This includes improving infrastructure and support with the ultimate goal to achieve scientific breakthroughs and cost efficient state of the art of cancer care. This will strengthen the position of Karolinska as a strategic partner for translational cancer research, attracting competences, innovation and resources, both from other academic centers and from the international biopharmaceutical industry. Consequently these efforts form the outline for a core structure of a CCC that will coordinate efforts of KI and the University Hospital together with other organisations in the Stockholm region.

One central task for the realisation of these objectives as part of the work plan is the establishment of teams of researchers and clinicians engaged in translational research projects that will generate operative guidelines and serve as proof of principle for the implementation of PCM. These exploratory projects will be continuously monitored and serviced to guarantee efficacy of workflows, quality assessments and results.

An important factor for success will be the capacity to secure access of infrastructure required for the implementation of a personalised medicine strategy. This will be achieved through the coordination of existing efforts and by promoting the development of services that are currently undersized or not available. One of these essential functions is the support for clinical trials. Furthermore a systematic evaluation of the outcomes of health care practices that takes into account also the patients' experiences, preferences, and values is required in order to make decisions based on scientific evidence.

The Cancer Research Foundation of Radiumhemmet and King Gustaf V’s Jubilee Foundation has granted 15 million SEK over three years for the promotion of translational cancer research and PCM at KI and Karolinska University Hospital by supporting this program.