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World Cancer Day 2015: EU Research to Fight Cancer

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Europe, with about 3.2 million citizens diagnosed with cancer each year (source: EC Joint Research Centre). So what is the EU doing to fight it?

To mark World Cancer Day 2015 (4 February), here is a quick look at what the EU is doing in the field of cancer research.


The EU invests over €200 million per year in cancer research.

The EU is an important cancer research funder. From 2007-2014, the EU invested more than €1.4 billion in international collaborative research, frontier research, mobility programmes, public-private partnerships and coordination of national cancer research efforts.

More than half this budget – € 770 million – was used to encourage key players from across Europe and beyond to join forces in 'collaborative research projects', to find new ways to fight cancer and help patients. These projects help us better understand how various types of cancer develop, how they can be diagnosed earlier and treated more successfully.

For instance, the EU-funded RATHER project is delivering a proof-of-concept for novel therapeutic interventions, together with matched personalised diagnostic approaches for 'triple negative' and 'invasive lobular' breast cancers. RATHER has initiated a phase I/II clinical trial to examine patient responses to a novel drug in a clinical setting.

Researchers are also blazing a trail towards personalised medicine in cancer care. This will mean the provision of new immunotherapy treatments targeting some of the most complicated conditions. In line with this approach an EU-funded project, MERIT, is developing new technologies to help doctors provide targeted, individual treatments. It has so far conducted clinical trials involving eight melanoma patients to demonstrate the potential of this approach.

Here are two more examples of successful, EU-funded cancer research projects:

Image of the cancer cell in human body

A closer look at dendritic cells and their links to cancer

Dendritic cells are a type of white blood cell. By studying them, an EU-funded project aims to provide wider insights into the role of the immune system in the development of cancer. The insights provided by the project could eventually help researchers develop new ways to fight a range of cancers - helping to save lives.

Ilustration of Immray antibody array slide

Spotting pancreatic cancer early

Pancreatic cancer is usually detected too late, leaving patients little hope of recovery. But this may be about to change. A Swedish SME has developed a blood test to help clinicians identify new cases earlier, and it intends to make this diagnostic capability available very soon. Clinical validation is under way in an EU-funded project.


Read more cancer research success stories