Call for proposals on “Translational research on rare cancers”

Call for proposals on “Translational research on rare cancers”

TRANSCAN-2 is launching its fourth Joint Transnational Call for research proposals (JTC 2017) on the topic:

“Translational research on rare cancers”

The following funding organisations have agreed to participate in JTC 2017:

- Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Austria
- Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), Belgium, Flanders
- Fund for Scientific Research - FNRS (F.R.S.-FNRS), Belgium, French speaking community
- Estonian Research Council (ETAg), Estonia
- National Cancer Institute (INCa), France
- ARC French Foundation for Cancer Research (ARC Foundation), France
- Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany
- General Secretariat for Research & Technology (GSRT), Greece
- The Chief Scientist Office in the Ministry of Health (CSO-MOH), Israel
- Ministry of Health (MoH), Italy
- Alliance Against Cancer (ACC), Italy
- Lombardy Foundation for Biomedical Research (FRRB), Italy
- State Education Development Agency (VIAA), Latvia
- Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), Luxembourg
- Dutch Cancer Society (DCS), Netherlands
- National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), Poland
- Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal
- Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS), Slovakia
- Spanish Association Against Cancer Scientific Foundation (FCAECC), Spain
- National Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII), Spain
- The Foundation for the support of the Applied Scientific Research and Technology in Asturias (FICYT), Spain
- Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), Taiwan
- Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK), Turkey

The call is published simultaneously by the funding organisations in their respective countries and on the TRANSCAN website.

Interested researchers and/or research teams are advised to prepare and make the necessary contacts and arrangements towards preparing applications.

Alliance Against Cancer acts as Joint Call Secretariat (JCS) to coordinate the application and selection process of JTC 2017. See contact details on the Call Text frontpage.

Please see below the details of the call topics and an outline of the eligibility criteria.

Aims of the Call

JTC 2017 focuses on: “Translational research on rare cancers”.

The challenges related to research and treatment in rare cancers, are intimately tightened to the low incidence of any single clinical-pathological entity currently listed among these cancers. On this basis, a network-based approach within the operating framework provided by TRANSCAN-2 could contribute to address compelling research questions in the area of interest. Indeed, the development and consolidation of consortia based on international collaborations will allow to efficiently integrate resources spanning the entire continuum from diagnostics to therapeutics and maximize the efforts for collecting clinically annotated biological samples. Such consortia will serve as a guide to pool scientific expertise, share novel insights and eventually train young investigators. In this view, the proposals of the present call will have to cover a minimum of one of the specific aims reported below, and within the aim/s of choice, the applicants will have to address at least one of the topics listed as bullet points. Proposals addressing one single aim and one single bullet point within the chosen aim will be allowed.

Aim 1: Design and conduct of translational research studies exploiting/combining resources from current clinical trials, bio-repositories and epidemiology-type resources.

Translational cancer research on aetiology, pathogenesis and prognosis of rare cancers is tightly linked to the integrated use and facilitated access to biospecimens from patients. Translational research goals in rare cancers may thus be achieved throughout studies of cohorts of patients with available biospecimens adequately stored in biorepositories linked to cancer registry data.

  • Translational studies based on the analysis of data and/or of clinically annotated specimens from previously conducted/ongoing trials with adequate follow up.
  • Conduct of studies for cancer risk assessment in rare cancers leveraging upon access to institutional and/or national cancer registries.
  • Identification and characterization of the etiopathogenetic determinants involved in rare cancers aiming at increasing our knowledge of the underlying pathways to be targeted by means of existing or experimental therapies.

Aim 2: Development and exploitation of translational research platforms (e.g., patient derived xenograft models/organoids/tissue collections) to study drug responses/resistance and toxicity, and perform drug screens or repurpose approved anticancer drugs.

-          Tissue collection, and genetic and epigenetic characterization of patient-derived rare tumors xenografts (PDXs). PDX could be used to identify determinants of heterogeneity in patient response to therapy, and thus inform patient-oriented therapeutic decisions. PDX could be used to screen for candidate pathways and/or therapeutics.

-          Three-dimensional cultures (or 'organoids') obtained from patients’ rare tumors which closely replicate key properties of the original cancers. Organoid cultures could be amenable to the detection of genetic and/or epigenetic changes associated with drug sensitivity and may thus lead the way to targeted approaches that could improve clinical outcomes in cancer patients.

-          Other translational research platforms that give insights into the drug responses/resistance and toxicity of drugs, and help perform drug screening for the treatment of rare diseases (e.g., induced pluripotent cell clones established from patient tumors and normal cells and induced to differentiate in vitro).

AIM 3: Implementation of precision biomarkers for better stratification of the clinical cohorts.

-          Validation and implementation of rare cancers associated biomarkers as molecular predictors of therapeutic response, treatment resistance and disease outcome.

-          Use of innovative, high throughput technologies designed to facilitate the comprehensive ‘omic assessment of genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, metabolomes, etc. of patients affected by rare cancers.

-          Design and conduct of phase I and/or phase II clinical studies aiming at the validation and implementation of precision biomarkers (including approaches based on liquid biopsies to enable non-invasive assessment of tumour heterogeneity and to monitor tumour dynamics) in patients diagnosed with rare cancers.

Application and Selection Process

TRANSCAN-2 JTC 2017 will be implemented through a two-stage submission procedure: pre-proposals and full proposals. Both pre- and full proposals must be written in English and must be submitted to the JCS by the coordinator through the electronic submission system ( exclusively.

In preparing the proposals, applicants should strictly follow the rules described in the JTC 2017 "Call Tex"t and in the “Guidelines for Applicants”. Applicants should take note of individual national/regional rules, and contact their national/regional contact points for specific questions.

Pre-proposals must be submitted to the electronic submission system no later than the 6th of February 2018, at 16:00 (Central European Time, CET). The information relating to the selected pre-proposals will be communicated to each coordinator by April 18th, 2018.

The information provided in the pre-proposal application is binding for the entire application process. Thus, any substantial changes between the pre-proposal and the full proposal (e.g. composition of the consortia, objectives of the project, etc.) must be communicated in advance to the JCS with detailed justification and will only be allowed by the CSC under exceptional circumstances.

Full proposals will have to be submitted to the electronic submission system not later than the 30th of May 2018 at 16:00 (Central European Summer Time, CEST).

Please note that full proposals will only be accepted from applicants explicitly invited by the JCS to submit.

The decision on the results of the full proposals evaluation meeting will be communicated to all the (successful and unsuccessful) coordinators in October 2018. The coordinators of the full proposals will receive a summary of the evaluation conclusions in due time.

Applicants may request funding for individual grants according to national/regional rules.

Please note that, for applicants from some countries/regions, it may be necessary to submit their proposals and/or other information not only to the JCS but also to their national/regional funding organisations. Therefore applicants are strongly advised to check with their national/regional contact persons for more details (see Call text, Annex 4: National/Regional Regulations and Contact Information).

Based on the time required for the funding at national level, the projects are expected to start in April 2019.

Planned Call Schedule

Preliminary announcement of the JTC 2017: October 6th, 2017

Publication of the JTC 2017: December 5th, 2017

Opening of electronic submission system for pre-proposals: December 5th 2017

Deadline for electronic pre-proposals submission: February 6th, 2018

Communication to coordinators of the results of the evaluation of pre-proposals: mid/late April 2018

Deadline for electronic full proposals submission: May 30th, 2018

Communication of final evaluation result and funding decision: October 2018

Start of funded research projects: April 2019