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16Dec 2016

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Dutch Cancer Society gives 1.7 million to the Netherlands Cancer Institute to investigate broader application of precision drugs

Today the Dutch Cancer Society announced that it will honor 17 research projects of the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) with a grant. The DRUP project will receive the largest one: 1.7 million Euro. DRUP focuses on making precision drugs available for patients with different types of tumors than the ones the drug are registered for.

Within the DRUP trial, patients for whom no regular treatment options are available anymore and whose tumor has specific genetic characteristics, against which precision drugs are available but only for other tumor types with these same characteristics, are granted access to those drugs.  Prof. Dr. Emile Voest, medical director of the NKI, who heads the project together with prof. dr. Henk Verheul (VUmc) and prof. dr. Hans Gelderblom (LUMC), is very pleased with the large grant. "It is great that the Dutch Cancer Society acknowledges the importance of this unique research project.", says Voest.  "In the trial we will focus on both precision drugs and on immunotherapies. These types of drugs are always developed and registered - and reimbursed - for specific types of cancer. But there are often other types of cancer in which the tumor can have the exact same genetic mutations, meaning that these patients might also benefit from these drugs. Usually these patients won't get the drug because it is not registered for their type of cancer. Pharmaceutical companies will make a large number of anti-cancer drugs available for our study. The project can teach us a lot about these existing drugs, and hopefully it will show that they can be used wider than is the case right now. On the other hand, it will also be a valuable lesson if our ideas don't succeed."

DRUP: the Drug Discovery Protocol

Up until now thirteen anti-cancer drugs have been included in the research project, with a number of others still under review. Each drug will be administered to a small group of patients with different types of cancer. The trial should show for which type of tumor each drug works, and for which type of tumor they don't. Even if these tumor types all have the same genetic characteristics. The trial may benefit patients who have mutations that are well known in other types of cancer, but rare in their type. For the pharmaceutical companies the trial will also provide important information: it is the first time oncologists will register how effective certain drugs are against cancer types the drugs are not registered for.

National collaboration

The Drug Rediscovery Protocol (DRUP) originates from a national collaboration between 40 Dutch hospitals, that all participate in the Center for Personalized Cancer Treatment (CPTC). Eight pharmaceutical companies will make their drugs available. The expectation is that more pharmaceutical companies will join. All the genetic and clinical data will be stored in the national database of the Hartwig Medical Foundation and will remain available for future studies. The DRUP research protocol has already received a lot of international attention. In different places around the world similar projects will start and all data will be shared. This will bring knowledge about rare patients groups together.

Other project grants

Next to the DRUP project, 16 other NKI research projects were awarded with grants in this latest financing round of the Dutch Cancer Society. See this article for the full list of projects.


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