COMPASS project set to lead new therapies for children with cancer

COMPASS project set to lead new therapies for children with cancer
© iStock/gorodenkoff

The COMPASS project, guided by KiTZ, are combining molecular & microscopy-based techniques, identifying new treatment approaches for children with cancer.

The Hopp Children’s Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ), Germany, are coordinating the COMPASS project, funded by the European consortium ERA PerMed, with €1.5 million and involves leading scientific institutions across Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Finland and Hungary. The project has the aim of building an international, standardised platform for drug testing based on image analysis and accompanying molecular analysis that characterises and classifies different types of tumours to treat affected children with cancer.

The COMPASS project

When existing therapies fail in the treatment of children with cancer, molecular procedures can lead the way to new, targeted drugs. But what if they alone do not deliver the desired key to treatment success?

“Then we apply high-throughput microscopy techniques to investigate whether the tumour tissue is responsive to a library of clinically approved drugs, adding a valuable dimension to diagnostics,” says Olaf Witt, director of the Translational Program at the KiTZ and head of the Division of Paediatric Oncology in the Clinical Cooperation Unit of the German Cancer Research Center and the Heidelberg University Hospital.

“Combining the functional image-based drug response data with the information obtained through molecular analyses, we obtain more accurate evidence of promising therapeutic approaches in previously incurable childhood cancer.”

And here is where the new project COMPASS (Clinical implementation Of Multidimensional PhenotypicAl drug SenSitivities in paediatric precision oncology) was formed.

The project is funded by the European consortium ERA PerMed with 1.5 million euros over a period of three years. ERA PerMed is an association focused on the promotion of personalised medicine projects, with 32 partners from over 23 countries. It is co-funded by the European Commission.

New therapies for children with cancer

Sina Oppermann, scientific coordinator of the COMPASS project adds: “The goal is to build an international, standardised and validated platform for drug testing based on image analysis and accompanying molecular analysis that characterizes and classifies different types of tumours for their response to different drugs.”

“In the long run, the data will be translated into clinical trials at the KiTZ, so that affected children benefit as quickly as possible from the findings.”

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