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Brussels, 15th April 2010

Commission announces a further €21 million for tackling breast and kidney cancer

The European Commission has earmarked €21 million for two new research projects on cancer, as part of an international research effort coordinated since 2007 by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), which aims to elucidate comprehensively the changes in the human genome - the organism's hereditary information including genes - present in many forms of cancer. Understanding these mutations is paramount for advancing prevention, early detection, monitoring and treatment of a disease which killed 7.5 million people worldwide in 20071.

EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "This is the latest step in the EU’s effort to tackle cancer under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and a perfect example of the potential of EU research policy to save and improve lives. Unless progress is made in understanding and controlling cancer, the world will be seeing 17.5 million deaths and 27 million new cases annually by 2050. Cutting those numbers must be an absolute priority for the EU and the international partners we are working with.”

An ambitious research effort, a new approach to tackle cancer

With these two research projects, the EU will contribute to efforts worldwide to generate a catalogue of genomic mutations in tumours from 50 different cancer types or subtypes. This research approach will open the path to a more personalized medicine where the prescription for cancer treatment will be based on the genetic fingerprint of the tumour and the individual patient. To maximize the public benefit from ICGC member research, the data obtained after examining over 10,000 cancer tumours will be made available to the entire research community as rapidly as possible.

Collaborative EU-funded research will focus on breast and kidney cancer

The two new projects, BASIS and CAGEKID, are expected to receive €10.5 million each from the EU and to involve 27 research institutes from 10 countries throughout Europe and the USA. They will focus on unlocking the genetic code of breast cancer (the most common class of cancer diagnosed in women worldwide with more than one million cases diagnosed annually) and kidney cancer (of particular importance in Europe where the highest global incidence rates are observed).


Worldwide, more than 7.5 million people died of cancer and more than 12 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 20072.

In the EU, cancer was the second most common cause of death in 2006, accounting for two out of ten deaths in women and three out of ten deaths in men3. Due to the ageing population this figure is expected to rise further.

The International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) was founded in 2007 to provide a forum for collaboration among the world's leading cancer and genomic researchers and help coordinate large-scale projects to understand the genomic changes involved in cancer. For more details see:

Since 2002, EU's funding for cancer research has amounted to more than €660 million and a further €100 million is expected to be granted to cancer research projects in the months to come. More information on cancer research under the Seventh Framework Programme can be found at:

Since 2007, almost €2 billion have been committed by the EU for health research.

Details of new cancer research projects announced today

BASIS - Breast Cancer Somatic Genetics Study

An estimated 465,000 breast cancer deaths were expected worldwide in 20074. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women and is the most common cause of all deaths in women aged under 40.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there were 331,000 new cases and 90,000 deaths among women in the EU in 2006.

Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease with a number of subtypes. The BASIS project will generate complete catalogues of somatic mutations in 500 breast cancers. These catalogues of mutations will give scientists a statistical power to identify cancer genes that are mutated at a frequency of greater than 3% in this class of breast cancer. The results of this exhaustive and comprehensive set of studies will have a big impact on our understanding of the causes and biology of breast cancer.

Duration: 48 months

Expected EU contribution: €10.5 million

Coordinator: Prof. Mike Stratton, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK

Contact: Don Powell,

13 Partners from 8 countries: UK, The Netherlands, USA, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Belgium 

CAGEKID - Cancer Genomics of the Kidney

Renal Cell Cancer is of particular importance within Europe where the highest global incidence rates are observed. Disease incidence has increased over the last two decades, and it is now the 8th most common cancer in the EU. CAGEKID will provide the first systematic analysis of this tumour site providing new insights into the disease origins with application for diagnosis and treatment. It addresses a major need to identify new biological markers for renal cell cancer, one of very few tumour types for which there are currently no biological markers in routine clinical use. Renal cancer is not yet supported by any of the members of the ICGC.

Duration: 48 months

Expected EU contribution: €10.5 million

Coordinator: Prof. Mark Lathrop, Fondation Jean Dausset-CEPH, France

Contact: Prof. Mark Lathrop,

14 Partners from 7 countries: France, Czech Republic, Russia, UK, Sweden, Latvia, Germany

More information:


Detailed lists of participants

BASIS - Breast Cancer Somatic Genetics Study

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED
CAGEKID - Cancer Genomics of the Kidney

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

1 :

Global Facts and Figures 2007, The American Cancer Society

2 :

Global Facts and Figures 2007, The American Cancer Society

3 :

Eurostat 2006

4 :

Global Facts and Figures 2007, The American Cancer Society

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