Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Oncode Accelerator

Providing each cancer patient with the right treatment remains a challenge. Oncode Accelerator aims to change this by innovating the way we develop cancer treatments, thus ensuring the patient is at the heart of the process. Leiden University, the LUMC and other partners will implement this new way of working.

Jeannette de Wolf
National Growth Fund and 30 public and private partners

Include Leiden University, LUMC, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, the Princess Máxima Centre for Paediatric Oncology, UMC Utrecht and the Oncode Accelerator Foundation.

To discover, develop and bring a new drug to the market is a lengthy, high-risk and expensive process.  Furthermore, it often turns out that a new treatment is only effective in a subset of the patient population it was developed for. Oncode Accelerator aims to address this by innovating the preclinical phase of therapy development. Friso Smit, co-executive director of Oncode Accelerator, says, ‘In this early phase of development, we want to put the patient at the centre. We will do so through three innovation platforms: well-defined patient cohorts, organoid models derived from patients and predictive models based on artificial intelligence.’

The three Oncode Accelerator platforms consolidate existing expertise in the Netherlands in four types of cancer therapy (also known as the four workstreams): small molecules, biologics, cell and gene therapies, and therapeutic vaccines. This will make it easier to predict which patients will benefit from a new treatment.

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Small molecules

Within Oncode Accelerator Leiden University is coordinating one platform and one workstream. The workstream is the small molecules once, which focuses on translating fundamental discoveries from the oncology community into new anti-cancer drugs. To this end, a public-private ecosystem is being created that brings together the latest innovations and high-quality drug discovery technologies in an open drug discovery platform. This ecosystem aims to validate and de-risk relevant biological targets and candidate drugs at an early stage. As a result, more-promising drug candidates will be tested in costly clinical trials and fewer patients will be exposed to ineffective or dangerous drugs.

Contact person for the Small Molecules workstream: Jeanette de Wolf

Artificial Intelligence

The platform that Leiden University is coordinating is the Artificial Intelligence one. Within this platform a bespoke toolkit will be developed that will enable the acceleration of the drug discovery process. Pivotal to this is that the platform will initially consist of PhD candidates performing fundamental research. In the second phase scientific programmers will translate this fundamental research into proof of concept. The AI tools will be created in close collaboration with academic and commercial partners to maximise their relevance. Subsequent application to clinically relevant datasets and collaboration with the workstreams and platforms will allow for the development and optimisation of novel therapies.

Contact persons for the Artificial Intelligence platform: Gerard van Westen and Rick van Nuland

Therapeutic Vaccines

Het LUMC heeft de leiding over de werkstroom Therapeutische Vaccinaties. Deze vaccinaties zijn een relatief nieuwe vorm van immunotherapie voor kanker. Ze trainen het immuunsysteem om kankercellen te lokaliseren, controleren en elimineren. Het doel is om de ontwikkeling van deze vaccinaties binnen Oncode Accelerator te versnellen. Het LUMC werkt samen met Universiteit Utrecht, Prinses Máxima Centrum voor kinderoncologie, Nederlands Kankerinstituut, Radboud Universiteit en Amsterdam UMC, en commerciële partners Mendus en 20Med.

The LUMC is coordinating the Therapeutic Vaccines workflow. These vaccines are a relatively new form of immunotherapy for cancer. They train the patient’s immune system to locate, recognise and eliminate cancer cells. The aim is to accelerate the development of these vaccines within Oncode Accelerator. The LUMC is working together with Utrecht University, the Princess Máxima Centre for Paediatric Oncology, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Radboud University and Amsterdam UMC, and commercial partners Mendus and 20Med. 

Contact person for the Therapeutic Vaccines workstream: Danijela Koppers-Lalic

For more information see the Oncode Accelerator website.

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