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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:

Photo of smiling doctor speaking with female patient

A 'magic bullet' targeting the DNA of cancer cells

EU-funded researchers are advancing a novel form of cancer therapy described as a 'magic bullet' against certain types of tumours. Their work promises to lead to more personalised and effective treatments for breast, ovarian and other forms of cancer over the coming years.

Image cancer cell

Researchers discover how genetic mutations rewire cancer cells

An international team of researchers, led by ERC grantee Prof Rune Linding, discovered how genetic cancer mutations attack the networks controlling human cells. This knowledge is critical for the future development of personalized precision cancer treatments.


Read more cancer research success stories