TRANSCAN-3 first Joint Transnational Call co-funded by the European Commission: "Next generation cancer immunotherapy: targeting the tumour microenvironment"

TRANSCAN-3 first Joint Transnational Call co-funded by the European Commission: "Next generation cancer immunotherapy: targeting the tumour microenvironment"

TRANSCAN-3 launches its first Joint Transnational Call for research proposals (JTC 2021) co-funded by the European Commission on the following topic:

"Next generation cancer immunotherapy: targeting the tumour microenvironment"

TRANSCAN-3 aims at promoting highly innovative and ambitious collaborative projects in translational cancer research at European and international level, and considers that, based on the previous grounds, it is timely and relevant to foster the translation of new knowledge on tumour microenvironment functions into clinical practices. The expected impact of the call is to improve the efficacy of personalized treatment of cancer patients through the development of new tools and targeted immunotherapy strategies, based on a better understanding of tumour microenvironment functions and of their impact on the disease course.

The following 28 funding organisations have agreed to participate in JTC 2021:

• Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Austria
• Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), Belgium, Flanders
• Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS), Belgium, French speaking community
• Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada
• Estonian Research Council (ETAg), Estonia
• French National Cancer Institute (INCa), France
• ARC French Foundation for Cancer Research (ARC Foundation), France
• Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany
• National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH), Hungary
• Health Research Board (HRB), Ireland
• The Chief Scientist Office of the Ministry of Health (CSO-MOH), Israel
• Ministry of Health (IT-MOH), Italy
• Ministry of Universities and Research (MUR), Italy
• Alliance Against Cancer (ACC), Italy
• Tuscany Region (TuscReg), Tuscany, Italy
• Fondazione Regionale per la Ricerca Biomedica (FRRB), Lombardy, Italy
• State Education Development Agency (VIAA), Latvia
• Research Council of Norway (RCN), Norway
• Norwegian Cancer Society (NCS), Norway
• National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), Poland
• Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal
• Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI), Romania
• Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) , Slovakia
• National Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII), Spain
• The Scientific Foundation of the Spanish Association Against Cancer (FCAECC), Spain
• The Foundation for the support of the Applied Scientific Research and Technology in Asturias (FICYT), Spain
• Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), Taiwan
• The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK), Turkey

The Italian Ministry of Health (Ministero della Salute, IT-MoH) and the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, ISS) will act as Joint Call Secretariat (JCS) to coordinate the application and selection process of JTC 2021.
Email of the Joint Call Secretariat:

Aims of the Call:

Aim 1: Identification and validation of TME subclasses and their contribution to the resistance mechanisms: Translational research using tumour samples collected from retrospective and/or prospective cohorts of patients.

1.1 Dissection of tumour cells/tumour-infiltrating immune/stromal cells and identification of TME subclasses (single-cell analyses, mass cytometry, imaging, multidimensional immunohistochemistry, etc.) for TME studies (3D culture systems; patient-derived organoids; patient-derived xenografts; syngeneic, genetically modified and chemical carcinogenesis-induced mouse models, etc.).

1.2 Definition of the contribution of TME to resistance mechanisms and identification of new therapeutic targets through multiomics (epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomics, study of the microbiome and virome, etc.) to assess functional characteristics of TME-tumour cell interplay within the primary tumour and/or metastases (e.g the underlying signaling, the transcriptional landscape, the cell-cell communication, the network regulation of immune cells, etc.), to identify candidate TME targets and to assess the activity of pathway-targeting agents.

1.3 Development of tools capable of predicting treatment efficacy and tumour recurrence using minimally- or noninvasive techniques (generation of algorithms modelling the network dynamics, predictive models based on artificial intelligence, integrating -omics data and network approaches). Development of robust noninvasive biomarkers of disease course (radiomics, cell-free circulating tumour DNA, miRNA signatures, circulating tumour cells, etc.). Sex/gender impact must be considered.

Aim 2: Identification and validation of TME subclasses and their contribution to the resistance mechanisms: Translational research using tumour samples collected from retrospective and/or prospective cohorts of patients.

2.1 Development of new precision therapeutic strategies that may prevent human tumour recurrence or resistance (T-cell-based cancer immunotherapies, immune checkpoint blockers (ICBs), chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cells, preventive and therapeutic vaccines, etc.).

2.2 Evaluation in translational studies of the impact of TME on treatment efficacy and patient outcome (clinical utility of specific TME feature detections or identifications, clinical utility of specific intratumour or peripheral blood immune biomarkers, sex/gender impact, etc.).

2.3 Phase I and II clinical trials (combinations of available treatments, new therapeutic strategies, new administration schemes, etc.) targeting, or preventing resistance of multiple TME features. Particular attention should be given to gender balance inclusion in order to intercept sex/gender differences and to determine if there is an association between sex/gender and treatment response.

Application and selection process

There will be a two-stage submission procedure for joint applications: pre-proposals and full proposals. Both types of proposals must be written in English and must be submitted by the coordinator.

To apply to first stage, the Pre-proposal Application Form must be used. Pre-proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file exclusively through the electronic submission system by the deadline of 29 June 2021 at 12:00 (CEST).

In preparing the proposals, applicants should strictly follow the rules described in the JTC 2021 "Call Text" and in the document entitled "Guidelines for Applicants". Applicants should take note of individual national/regional rules, and contact their national/regional contact points for specific questions.

Consortia composition (see the Call Text for complete information):

- Each research consortium must involve a minimum of three (3) and a maximum of six (6) partners, eligible for funding, coming from different countries whose funders participate in the call.

- The partners must be from at least three (3) different countries participating in the call. In addition, a consortium must not involve more than two (2) research groups from the same country (in such cases the minimum number of groups must be 4, coming from 3 different countries).

- A wide inclusion of research teams from all the countries/regions participating in the call is encouraged, with a particular attention to research teams from Latvia, Slovakia and Turkey, in order to strengthen the European translational cancer research area.

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 relevant national/regional funding organisations. Therefore, applicants are strongly advised to check with their national/regional funding organisations for more details.

All proposals will be subject to a peer-review and a joint decision process of the funding organisations involved.

For the second stage, successful applicants will be invited to submit their full proposals on 5th November 2021.

Based on the time required for the approval process for granting funds to the respective national/regional research groups, projects are expected to start in October-November 2022.

Call Timeline

6 April 2021

Publication of the call

20 April 2021 at 16:00 (CEST)

Opening of the on-line submission system for pre-proposals

29 June 2021 at 12:00 (CEST)

Deadline for pre-proposal submission

5 November 2021

Communication of the results of the pre-proposal assessment and invitation for full-proposal stage

19 November 2021

Opening of the submission system for full proposals

20 December 2021 at 12:00 (CET)

Deadline for full-proposal submission

May 2022

Estimated date for communication of the funding decisions to the applicants

October/November 2022

Expected start date of projects (This date may subject to regional/national procedures)