In short, what is your research project about? What are you researching and why?
OVCURE focuses on high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGS-OvCa), the most common and severe subtype of ovarian cancer. The lethality of this cancer is mainly due to the fact that many of the patients relapse and become resistant to the standard form of chemotherapy (platinum-taxane chemotherapy). The main goals of OVCURE are to combine multiple approaches to 1) establish a prognostic predictor that enables prediction of whether an individual HGS-OvCa patient responds to the current first-line chemotherapy (platinum-taxane) at diagnosis, and 2) find molecularly-targeted combination therapies for patients who show limited response to current treatments.
There is much talk about multi-, trans- and interdisciplinarity nowadays. Are these merely trendy buzzwords for scientific collaboration, or do they serve an instrumental purpose in your project?
The OVCURE project is a truly cross-disciplinary project that uses primary, patient-derived material to facilitate computational approaches and translational research. The project would be impossible to implement without close collaboration between oncologists, pathologist, cell biologists, systems biologists and computational network pharmacology experts, who will all contribute to the project.
Research into personalised health involves an integrative “from-research-to-practice” mindset. Where do you place your own research in this context? Does your project have partners that are not research-related partners?
The OVCURE project integrates expertise from clinical to cell biology and computational analysis. Our main objective is to translate the results emerging from the project into facilitating diagnostic and treatment decisions in clinical practice. The project thus consists of research and healthcare professionals. The commercial potential of the project is evident, and public-private collaboration will be evaluated based on the results obtained in this pilot.
A big fuss over nothing, or a major change in practices? In your estimation, how and when will the effects of the promotion of personalised health be evident in the healthcare system?
Any change in the current treatment practices of ovarian cancer patients requires comprehensive research including clinical trials. Such trials are expensive and thus not part of the OVCURE project. If successful, the results emerging from OVCURE will be used to facilitate the treatment decisions for refractory patients. Further, the results will spare many patients from ineffective treatments that would only cause severe side-effects. The results will also help clinicians to consider new targeted drug combinations that are predicted to effectively inhibit the tumour of a given patient without having severe side-effects.