The European Research Initiative of ALK-related malignancies (ERIA) forms the core of a successful proposal for a European Training Network (ETN). Suzanne Turner of the University of Cambridge, Lukas Kenner (LBI-CR) and Olaf Merkel (Medical University Vienna) formed a consortium around some of the leading researchers focussing in malignancies driven by the oncogene ALK to facilitate the development of less-toxic and more efficacious therapies. The consortium developed a competitive training programme for twelve PhD students, which is complemented by an array of companies.
With a score of 95.4 ALKATRAS made it into the top 6.3 % out of more than 1,300 proposals to obtain an invitation for funding. This makes European Training Networks one of the most competitive funding opportunities available within HORIZON2020. „With ERIA we have based this proposal on an existing network of academic research collaboration, which will now be reinforced through the incorporation of several companies. I hope this will speed up the translation of our research into novel and improved therapies,“ said Suzanne Turner, the coordinator of the ALKATRAS project from the University of Cambridge.
A large part of the research concept rests on the seminal work published by Laimer et al in Nature Medicine, which identified the PDGFR-inhibitor Imatinib (Novartis) as a potential treatment for Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). „To translate innovative research into medical application is a central remit of our work and it has been increasingly difficult in recent years to obtain funding for such research, if the relevant disease is comparatively rare. I am therefore very happy that this ETN will support not only my research at the LBI-CR, but also within the entire network to boost our collaborations. I am sure the participating students will greatly benefit from this experience,“ says Lukas Kenner, co-founder of ERIA at the LBI-CR.
The LBI-CR participates for the first time in an ETN and thus, for the implementation of the local training programme, will greatly benefit from its close association to the partner Medical University Vienna, which is also a beneficiary of ALKATRAS. With TissueGnostics also the commercial partner of the LBI-CR contributes to the innovative training programme.