The first meeting took place on 18 January 2021, marking the start of the TREL project funded by Horizon 2020. This project is especially significant for the specialists from VUL Santara clinics who will participate in the European Project as key coordinators for the first time.
The aim of this 3-year project is to improve the survival of children with malignant tumors (central nervous system, neuroblastoma and kidney) in Lithuania by actively initiating scientific activities and sharing the knowledge with more experienced partners.
The meeting was attended by 43 specialists from 9 countries and hospitals, as well as officials from the European Commission.
The meeting began with a presentation of ongoing projects and research initiatives at VUL Santara Clinics, followed by a discussion on the tasks planned to be performed during the project. In the first part of the meeting, partners from Austria presented the outcomes of the research on the diagnosis of paediatric oncohematological diseases, as well as innovations in treatment methodologies with Danish partners. After highlighting the lack of clinical trials and their importance, experienced partners from Germany were invited to participate in the clinical trials to support VUL Santara clinicians. The last topic discussed with the partners was the introduction of a Survivorship Passport, as well as the preservation of children’s fertility.
The TREL proposal has the ultimate aim to increase the research excellence of the VULSK and to enhance its reputation, attractiveness and networking channels in the field of paediatric solid tumours. By twinning with 8 internationally-leading research institutions from across Europe, VULSK will be positioned to improve its scientific, technical and innovation capacities in translational and clinical research. VULSK engagement in collaborative actions will raise research profile of the coordinating institution and individual scientists. The established links and sustainable transfer of innovative technologies beyond the project duration will close the gap in research indicators and treatment outcomes a long-term perspective.
The specific challenge addressed by the TREL project is insufficient networking activities between Lithuanian researchers (translational and clinical scientists) involved in management of childhood cancer and European leading research centres. Previous twinning experience of VULSK with research-intensive Nordic centres through the Nordic Society of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (NOPHO) led to significantly higher cure rates in childhood leukaemia. This emphasizes the crucial impact of international collaborative research and training on clinical outcomes. The aim of the TREL project is to increase the research excellence of VULSK, the leading Lithuanian paediatric oncology centre, in the field of paediatric solid tumours by twinning with 8 internationally-leading research institutions from across Europe.
TREL has defined the following objectives:
1. Increase knowledge sharing in basic-translational research aiming to standardize interpretation of tumour biomarkers for risk stratification and whole genome sequencing for elucidation of cancer driver mechanisms pursuing achievement of adequate research capacities to incorporate VULSK researchers into tumour-specific research groups (WP3).
2. Gain specific knowledge and skills necessary to handle innovative therapies in early phase clinical trials including the implementation of educational and research activities in pharmacogenetics, clinical pharmacology and drug metabolism (WP4).
3. Fostering research and collaborative activities in clinical research (including pathology, radiology, radiotherapy and patient care) to increase preparedness to conduct prospective clinical trials in the selected childhood solid tumours (CNS, NBL and RT) within the European Clinical Trial Group and observational studies based on modern biology-driven approaches to tumour classification and treatment (WP5)
4. Scale-up research on survivorship quality and late affects by implementation of Survivorship Passport at VULSK and integration in the pan-European research activities for standardization of follow up recommendations as well as enhancement of fertility research (WP6)
5. Promotion of ESRs by training a research active and innovative young scientists, possessing sufficient knowledge and technical skills to collaborate within large-scale research groups as well as able to initiate and accomplish their own research project (WP3-7)
6. Dissemination and communication (respecting intellectual property rights) of the impact of the twinning activities for the scientific community, widening country and ultimate benefit for patients as well as exploitation of the established research platform and development of the sustainability plan for the undertaken efforts (WP1 and 2)
7. Strengthening capacities of the coordinating institution in research management and coordination of large-scale collaborative projects including proposal preparation, project management and administration and innovation transfer abilities (WP7).
8. Preparation of common peer reviewed publications in collaboration with project partners (WP3-7).
Vilnius Universiteto Ligonine Santaros Klinikos (VULSK), Lithuania
Children’s Cancer Research Institute (CCRI), Austria
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Germany
Region Hovedstaden (REGIONH), Denmark
Princess Maxima Centre (PMC), Netherlands
Instituto Giannina Gaslini (IGG), Italy
Consorzio Interuniversitario (CINECA), Italy
Institute Gustave Roussy (IGR), France
European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe), Belgium
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 – Work Programme on Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation under grant agreement No 952438. The material presented and views expressed here are the responsibility of the author(s) only. The EU Commission takes no responsibility for any use made of the information set out.