Future research collaborations within prostate cancer, and how they will be funded were discussed at Prostate Cancer Translational Research in Europe Meeting (PCTRE) in Malmö, Sweden. New cutting-edge research was also presented, with a particular focus on clinically useful biomarkers and drug development.
Representatives of research, patients, the pharmaceutical industry, the EU and non-governmental organisations met on 27–28 June. The event was organised by the EAU and was attended by some 170 delegates from all over the world, who came together to encourage the development of research that produces the greatest possible benefit for patients and society.
“A number of EU-funded research projects are coming to an end. The question is now – how should we proceed? What are the most important research tasks for the future? What projects should we take on and how should we finance them? These are the issues we have come here to discuss”, explained Prof. Anders Bjartell (SE) prostate cancer researcher at Skåne University Hospital and Lund University, who was the local organiser of the conference.
“It’s great to see the increasing rate at which the progress of recent years in basic research is being transferred to patients. This ‘translational’ process benefits patients, as methods of diagnosing and treating prostate cancer are linked together.”
The role of the European Union
It was very clear that funding issues are a high priority, as today’s research uses advanced and expensive methods. Half a day was dedicated to the topic, with speakers representing a number of different stakeholders. Representatives of patients, NGOs (including Movember) and the EU stressed that researchers must improve coordination of the extensive research into prostate cancer in order to meet the funding bodies’ requirements for the research results to be converted into new, successful treatments.
The message given was that larger configurations with joint strategies and goals make it possible to move up a gear in the research through collaborations. This also aids the funding bodies’ understanding. Marjolein Van Griethuysen (NL) from Erasmus University Rotterdam, who also works with EU relations in Brussels, presented the EU’s forthcoming framework for research and innovation, Horizon 2020. She pointed out the opportunities to influence the EU’s design of future programmes for research grants, even if time is running out to influence Horizon 2020 itself.
“Many researchers wait for the EU to advertise grants, but the European Commission wants to hear many different perspectives before designing a funding programme”, said Van Griethuysen.
The researchers at the conference were also positive. EAU Secretary-General Prof. Per-Anders Abrahamsson was quick to agree when Günter Feick raised the question of whether the EAU could be an appropriate organisation to take on the role of coordinating hub for future research into prostate cancer. Feick represents a large number of patient organisations across Europe through Europa Uomo.
“We spend more time in Brussels than we did before, and we have staff working there. However, just as Günter Feick says, we have to do this together. We will put forward a plan and then present it to politicians and decision-makers”, said Per-Anders Abrahamsson.
The full version of this report will be featured in the August/September edition of European Urology Today