Project Acronym:
CareMore

Project Reference:
601760

Duration: 36 months

Contract Type:
Small or medium-scale
focused research project

Project Funding:
5 million euro

Research area:
HEALTH.2013-0-1: Boosting the translation of health research projects results into innovative applications for health

Consortium

Partner 1: Olink Bioscience, Sweden

Olink develops novel tools for protein and nucleic acid analyses. The proprietary products are based on a strong intellectual property portfolio covered in more than 35 patents, and sold by Olink and a global network of distributors. The company's technologies are also commercialized by out-licensing to industry leading partners such as Affymetrix, Life Technologies, and through the spin-out companies Halo Genomics (Now Agilent Inc.) and Qlinea. Olink was founded in 2004, is privately owned and headquartered in Uppsala, Sweden, where they employ 30 persons.

Main tasks in the project

Olink will develop early prototype and prototype reagents for in situ mutation detection and in situ PLA reactions in circulating tumor cells (CTCs), and participate in the development of a multiplexing scheme for fluorescence read-out of the molecular analyses. Furthermore Olink will participate in the clinical studies by performing the in situ PLA and in situ mutation detection on the patient samples.

Previous experience relevant to the tasks and company strategy in relation to project outcome

Olink has expert knowledge about the techniques used in the project and a track record of transforming research finding into commercial products. Olink coordinated the EU FP6-project ENLIGHT, with a focus on the development of in situ PLA and applications thereof, and the project led to the launch of Olink´s Duolink product line. Moreover, another project coordinated by Olink, the EU FP7-project PROACTIVE, led to the launch of Olink´s Proseek product. Olink is also coordinating the FP7-IBD-Character project – building on the Proseek multiplexed product that was launched during 2013. The focus of CareMore is to show clinical utility of a concerted set of methods and techniques, out of which Olink provides the molecular methods and reagents. Olink is currently in the process of addressing the clinical diagnostic market and several experienced industrialists, with experience of commercial development and sales of in vitro diagnostic products, have recently been employed. The successful outcome of the CareMore project is perfectly in line with Olink´s long term goals.

 

Partner 2: CytoTrack ApS, Denmark

CytoTrack was founded in 2004 by three founders working in the engineering company 2C A/S. The sole purpose of CytoTrack is to develop an instrument for detection of rare cells.

Main task in the project

CytoTrack will develop early prototypes as well as prototypes of systems for performing necessary steps for CTC isolation and molecular characterization of CTCs and for subsequent imaging and identification of CTCs. CytoTrack will furthermore take part in the clinical validation by performing assays on the developed prototype systems.

Previous experience relevant to the tasks and company strategy in relation to project outcome

The members of CytoTrack have several years of experience of instrument development and have taken the company 2C to a profitable engineering company with 15 employees. The profit generated within 2C have so far funded the research activities within CytoTrack and taken CytoTrack to the position it is today with the fourth generation instrument launched and placed on the market. At the present time detection and isolation of CTCs is the main application. CytoTrack has a fully developed platform for this specific application and already obtained commercial sales of instruments as well as ongoing cooperation with several Danish hospitals in order to validate the technique further. Over the last two years the focus has changed from enumeration of CTCs to molecular characterization, as enumeration is regarded primarily as a prognostic tool, while molecular characterization will lead to a better understanding of the dissemination and characteristics of the cells forming metastasis. It is therefore obvious, that the next generation of CytoTrack must include tools for characterization either on-disc or off-disc. This project will support this development in cooperation with partners with high competences in the complementary technologies. The work within CareMore is thus perfectly in line with CytoTrack´s strategic goals.

 

Partner 3: Erasmus MC Cancer Institute (EMC), Netherlands

The Erasmus MC Cancer Institute of the Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam is a renowned medical center with a long-standing tradition in clinical as well as translational cancer research. The Center admits annually 40,000 patients to the hospital and teaches yearly 28 medical subspecialties to 2,733 students. The research division “Translational Cancer Genomics and Proteomics” in the department of Medical Oncology investigates primary breast tumors and CTCs using genomics and proteomics tools.

Main tasks in the project and previous experience relevant to the tasks

The department of Medical Oncology runs and recruits patients to national and international clinical trials including trials on metastatic cancer patients involving molecular characterization of CTCs. Statisticians, central data and trial management including monitoring and quality assurance are available. The research division “Translational Cancer Genomics and Proteomics” has ample expertise in molecular characterization of CTCs. In CareMore, EMC will lead WP4 involving the crucial clinical studies. EMC also participates in other WPs providing expertise and materials for assay development.

 

Partner 4: Philips Electronics Nederland B.V, Netherlands

Royal Philips NV is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely and meaningful innovations. The organization offers world-class research facilities, services and expertise to facilitate innovation in the domains of micro-systems, nano-technology, life sciences and electronic systems, to fulfill its mission. Philips Research Europe employs 1,100 people in Eindhoven, 600 of which are researchers and engineers. They work in the areas of healthcare, lifestyle and lighting. Philips Research is located at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven, an R&D ecosystem of more than 90 companies and institutes, with over 8,000 researchers, developers and entrepreneurs, who together are working on developing the technologies and products of tomorrow.

Main tasks in the project and previous experience relevant to the tasks

Philips Research is a world leading research institute and has received worldwide recognition on e.g. optical storage innovation through, a.o. Emmy awards and the IEEE milestone award. Content wise, Philips Research has embraced the strong growth of Philips Healthcare in the past decade. Recently Philips has introduced a benchmark digital pathology scanner with unmatched image quality and speed. For the CareMore project, research departments Molecular Diagnostics and Video & Image Processing and the incubator Digital Pathology will be connected. The department Molecular Diagnostics adds leadership knowledge on the signalling pathway-directed biomarker selection, patient stratification, and the staining assay automation and assay optimization.  The Digital Pathology incubator adds leadership knowledge in the area of image acquisition and optical scanning of stained tissue sections, tissue micro-arrays and cells.

 

Partner 5: Stockholm University, Sweden

Stockholm University is one of the largest universities in Sweden with more than 60,000 students, 1,800 PhD students, and 5,000 employees active within science and humanities. The group of Molecular Diagnostics, headed by Professor Mats Nilsson, is located at the Swedish national research center Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), located at the Karolinska medical university’s campus. The group is focused on developing novel molecular analysis tools for research and diagnostics, and to integrate them to analytical system concepts. Four companies have spun out of the research. The group consists of 1 researcher, 1 bioinformatician, 4 postdocs and 9 PhD students.

Main tasks in the project

Stockholm University will develop and transfer assay protocols for in situ mutation detection in CTCs, and participate in the development of a multiplexing scheme for fluorescence readout of the molecular analyses.

Previous experience relevant to the tasks

The group of Molecular Diagnostics has a long track record of developing molecular analysis techniques and transfer these to industrial application. The group has participated in the FP6 COMICS, FP7 TWOBIAS and FP7 Diatools projects, and lead work packages in the FP6 MolTools and FP7 READNA projects. They are also participating and leading work packages in the IMI projects ONCOTRACK and RAPP-ID. The results from these projects are the basis for the molecular methods utilized in CareMore.