ITCC pediatric preclinical POC platform


Today, 20% of childhood cancers remain incurable and cancer kills 6 000 young people in Europe every year, making it the leading cause of disease-related death in the under-19s. Moreover, two thirds of those who survive a cancer in childhood experience long-term side effects as a result of their treatment. The challenge for scientists seeking to develop new treatments is the lack of tools to study childhood cancers, which are quite different in nature to most cancers found in adults.

The ITCC-P4 project will develop a large-scale platform comprising 400 novel research tools based on cells and tissues from patients covering 10 common childhood cancers, including neuroblastoma, high grade glioma, and osteosarcoma. The tools will allow researchers to explore the biology of paediatric cancers, identify sub-groups of patients that might respond better to certain treatments, and carry out tests on potential drugs.

Ultimately, the platform should significantly add to our understanding of childhood cancers and speed up the development of new treatments. The project resulted in the establishment of a spin-off company, ITCC-P4 gGmbH, which utilises the results of the project and develops patient-specific preclinical laboratory models for the most common high-risk childhood cancers.

Achievements & News

Lab-grown tumours will help end drought of childhood cancer drugs

Because childhood cancer is rare, it receives relatively little scientific attention. Pharma companies have in their possession molecules that hold promise as drugs for use in child cancer patients, but there has been a lack of tools and animal models that can be used to test the molecules’ effects on tumours. ITCC-P4 was conceived to fix this problem###; the project is creating hundreds of different childhood tumours in mouse models in order to study them in detail and, ultimately, use them to test out promising molecules that will lead to new drugs.

‘Our most fervent hope is that the tumour models within the platform represent the heterogeneity across paediatric tumour types. So, let’s say for instance, there are 30 ‘ways’ for a normal cell to essentially go haywire and become a childhood sarcoma. We expect to have in our models those 30 ‘ways’ represented,’ explains project leader Louis Stancato of Eli Lilly.

‘In other words, a patient comes into a clinic, a chunk of his or her tumour is taken and then sequenced, and it’s found that, for example, the cell has gone awry in this particular way. The idea is that we have models like that in our repertoire and we can test molecules against that particular mode of tumorigenesis. We can see which drugs are efficacious, which ones are active. If the child has a certain mutation, well we hope to have that mutation represented in our collection, and hopefully we can identify drugs in the pipeline - or maybe even on the market already - that might target that particular mutation.’

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EFPIA companies
  • Amgen, Brussels, Belgium
  • Astrazeneca AB, Södertälje, Sweden
  • Bayer Aktiengesellschaft, Leverkusen, Germany
  • Charles River Discovery Research Services Germany GMBH, Freiburg, Germany
  • Eli Lilly And Company LTD, Basingstoke, United Kingdom
  • F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Basel, Switzerland
  • Institut De Recherches Servier, Suresnes, France
  • Janssen Pharmaceutica Nv, Beerse, Belgium
  • Pfizer Limited, Sandwich, Kent , United Kingdom
  • Pharma Mar SA, Colmenar Viejo, Spain
  • Sanofi-Aventis Recherche & Developpement, Chilly Mazarin, France
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Alleanza Contro Il Cancro, Roma, Italy
  • Charite - Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
  • Fundacio Privada Per A La Recerca I La Docencia Sant Joan De Deu, Esplugues de Llobregat, Spain
  • Innovative Therapies For Children With Cancer Association, Villejuif, France
  • Institut Curie, Paris, France
  • Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France
  • Institute Of Cancer Research: The Royal Cancer Hospital Lbg, London, United Kingdom
  • Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany
  • Medizinische Universitaet Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • Prinses Maxima Centrum Voor Kinderoncologie BV, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • St. Anna Kinderkrebsforschung GMBH, Wien, Austria
  • Stichting Amsterdam Umc, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Universitaet Ulm, Ulm, Germany
  • Universitat Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • University Of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • Experimentelle Pharmakologie Und Onkologie Berlin-Buch GMBH, Berlin, Germany
  • Xentech SAS, Evry, France
Third parties
  • Fondazione Irccs Istituto Nazionale Dei Tumori, Milano, Italy
  • Gustave Roussy Transfert, Villejuif, France
  • Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Italy
  • Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesu, Rome, Italy

NameEU funding in €
Alleanza Contro Il Cancro27 025
Charite - Universitaetsmedizin Berlin467 562
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heidelberg1 725 864
Experimentelle Pharmakologie Und Onkologie Berlin-Buch GMBH668 425
Fundacio Privada Per A La Recerca I La Docencia Sant Joan De Deu264 050
Innovative Therapies For Children With Cancer Association107 538
Institut Curie484 038
Institut Gustave Roussy380 912
Institute Of Cancer Research: The Royal Cancer Hospital Lbg646 750
Medizinische Universitaet Wien181 075
Prinses Maxima Centrum Voor Kinderoncologie BV808 000
St Anna Kinderkrebsforschung Verein (left the project)102 811
St. Anna Kinderkrebsforschung GMBH60 474
Stichting Amsterdam Umc505 300
Xentech SAS628 425
Third parties
NameFunding in €
Fondazione Irccs Istituto Nazionale Dei Tumori46 688
Gustave Roussy Transfert120 000
Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli118 375
Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesu26 688
Total Cost7 370 000