In the Netherlands, around 110,000 people are diagnosed with cancer, this equates to 12 people per hour. There is a slightly higher rate of diagnoses under men, than women. The 5-year survival rate is on average 64%. This differs greatly, depending on the type of cancer. Cancer is the number 1 cause of death in the Netherlands, it causes considerable damage and costs the country a lot of money. Through the efforts of organisations like Stiching Barcode for Life, change is being achieved.
Prof. Dr. Emile Voest, internist oncologist, conclude years ago that the treatment of cancer was too focused on the premise of the ‘the greatest common denominator’. Through this approach, hundreds of patients, were and still are exposed to medications, that do not always work but do have side effects. He told friends about his desire to tackle this problem in a structured manner. This lead to the creation of the Stichting Barcode for Life, an organization which only has 1 goal, namely the raising of funds for the Center for Personalized Cancer Treatment (CPCT). This center originated from the UMC Utrecht, the Daniel den Hoed kliniek of Rotterdam and the NKI Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in Amsterdam.
The goal of the CPCT is to provide every cancer patient with a specific to them treatment. With the current technology it is possible to read the genetic material, the DNA, in the human body of both the normal cells and the cancer cells. Through this DNA analysis, it is possible to predict how the different types of cancer will develop and which DNA changes the cancer growths cause. This is an important step forward. Knowing why the cancer began and is growing, means we can then put the best medicines to use in combating the cancer. Every patient in the future will be given a personalized treatment plan, meaning that they will be less exposed on the unnecessary side effects of the standard treatment. The specific DNA analysis, the so-called sequencing, has been outsourced by the CPCT to an organization specialized in this work, the Hartwig Medical Foundation (HMF) which is based in the Amsterdam Science Park.
As well as the sequencing, HMF, gathers the genetic and clinical details of all cancer patients from all over the Netherlands into one national database. In this regards HMF is a global leader. The details are made available for research purposes to improve the care for future cancer patients. By collecting the medical information of cancer patients throughout the Netherlands into one database, regarding how the disease develops and what the effects that treatments and medication have. This means that specialists can better treat and provide the optimal medication quicker for his or her specific tumor. Through this a patient is spared having to undergo a course of treatment that means that patient endures the side effects but the treatment itself does not work. Additional advantages of this method are that developments in new treatment methodology and medication can be stimulated, and the cost of care can be reduced.
Within the CPCT there are currently two large studies ongoing, the CPCT-02 study and the DRUP study. The CPCT-02 study entails that data is collected on patients who have advanced or metastatic cancer and are undergoing a standard treatment course with anti-cancer medication, the participation in this study is voluntary and only with explicit agreement from the patient. Of all patients a biopsy and blood is taken, which if possible, will then be sequenced by the team at HMF. The details of these patients is then stored, and made available for research purposes. The growth of the cancerous growth (tumor) is very complicated. In patients with cancer, much can change over the course of time with the hereditary material (DNA) in the tumor. These errors in the DNA make the tumor increase the aggressive nature of the tumor, but they also present an opportunity to learn distinguish between who would and will not benefit from a given treatment. Potentially it could be possible to design a special treatment, which is specifically aimed at the errors in the DNA of the tumor. The goal of the CPCT-02 research study is to study the DNA profile of the tumor, and the reaction of the DNA profile to treatment and the relationship between the two. As of April 2018, the 5000th patient joined the CPCT-02 study with 42 hospitals in the Netherlands participating.
The DRUP (Drug Rediscovery Protocol) study, is a CPCT study being carried out by NKI Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in Amsterdam. The DRUP study is for patients with advanced or metastatic cancer, for whom no standard treatment is available anymore. It is a country wide study into the effectiveness of tumor characteristics and anti-cancer drugs targeted at these characteristics. Cancer cells have different characteristics to healthy cells. Sometimes these differences offer reference points for starting therapy. Treatment that is specifically aimed at a given cancer cell characteristic is referred to as “targeted” therapy. These days there are growing types of these kinds of medications becoming available. Each of these medicines is aimed at one of more of these characteristics. Only if a given characteristic is present, is the doctor able to administer this targeting medication. In the DRUP study patients are treated based on their cancer cell characteristics with a targeted anti-cancer medication. These medications are already approved in the Netherlands but are normally used for the treatment of a different type of cancer. The DRUP study started in late 2016, multiple hospitals in the Netherlands are participants in this research study and more than 500 patients have applied.
The Stichting Barcode for Life is collecting funds for the CPCT-02 study and the DRUP study. The CPCT cannot only exist on the support that the Stichting provides, but these are of crucial importance and provide a financial backbone/lifeline of the CPCT. Collecting funds for the Stichting Barcode for Life takes place via the sponsorship activities, like the de 5th Car Challenge for Life on May 27th 2018, the Stelvio for Life that is on 1st September 2018 which will be the 7th edition, and a new event Theater for Life which was launched on February 12th 2018. We are making great progress, and as a participant in the Barcode Car Challenge for Life you are also contributing. Your contribution from today will be entirely to the benefit of the CPCT, the full 100%. Together with other collections, including the lottery from this evening, we expect in the coming days to be able to transfer a serious amount of money. Does the cause speak to you, and do you want to do more? Then we are happy to advise and guide you in this. A better cause is hardly imaginable!