Multifocal approach in Cancer Research
Based on the insight that many different areas of expertise are needed to fight cancer, the Strategic Research Centre for Translational Cancer Research (CREATE Health for short) at Lund University integrates clinicians with researchers from the Faculties of Medicine, Natural Sciences, Social Science and Engineering at Lund University.
The centre, which is mainly located at Medicon Village, has been around for eleven years and has been funded mainly by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and VINNOVA.
”Within CREATE Health we have projects that focus on the tumour microenvironment, the psychological impact on cancer and its treatment, as well as immuno-oncology. Another major focus area is early diagnosis and improved diagnostic methods. As for the different types of cancer investigated, we focus in particular on breast, pancreas and prostate cancer, which are three cancer with unmet clinical need,” says Ulrika Axelsson, PhD, Research Coordinator and Deputy Director at CREATE Health.
Tumours, an organ itself
Nowadays, cancer tumours are no longer seen as only a collection of cancer cells but are rather viewed as an organ with a microenvironment that consists of many cells other than cancer cells. There’s an immediate interest in investigating this microenvironment in relation to target non-cancer cells for therapeutic purposes – a novel treatment strategy.
”Within one of CREATE Heaths main program, the MAD (Make A Difference) for Cancer programme Professor Kristian Pietras and his research group, look at these different cell types and has identified promising target molecules to investigate further,” says Professor Carl Borrebaeck, Center Director.
”SCAN-B Resilience is an novel project combining expertise from many different areas represented by professors Lisa Rydén, Ingalill Rahm Hallberg, Carl Borrebaeck and Per Johansson ”The aim of the project is to map the molecular background of Psychological Resilience and to see how this can impact how a patient copes with cancer and the treatment. We want to know if there are psychological aspects that can increase the quality of life as well as the survival rate. We also want to connect it to the e-health platform Digital Oncology, to be able to follow the patients when they’re not at the clinic. SCAN-B Resilience is a project that has been very well-received by clinics and patients alike,” Ulrika Axelsson tells.
Professor Carl Borrebaeck leads a very promising research project on early diagnosis of pancreas cancer.
”It is based on a biomarker signature in a blood sample. In this case the test can detect pancreas cancer already at stage I and II, before the patient has developed any clinical symptoms. It can also distinguish cancer from other pancreatic disease, such as inflammation (pancreatitis). Resection of early stage pancreatic tumors radically increases the patient survival rate,” says Ulrika Axelsson.
In prostate cancer, we have together with Professor Anders Bjartell started a project to identify a biomarker signature as a complement to the PSA tests available today. The aim is to develop a much more accurate diagnosis, thereby relieving both healthcare providers and patients of a heavy burden.
Immuno-oncology is currently one of the hottest fields in cancer research with very promising results for the patients. Using immuno-onology the body´s own immune system is activated to fight the tumor. Professors Thoas Fioretos and Carl Borrebaeck have recently initiated a research project in this field funded by philanthropic donation involving an extensive collaboration with Swiss Cancer Center in Lausanne. The aim is to identify new therapeutic targets in immuno-oncology.