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Oncode Accelerator launched

Over 30 partners from science and industry are collaborating within Oncode Accelerator starting today. The goal of the program is to improve and accelerate the development of new cancer therapies by innovating the way new treatments for cancer are developed. The Princess Máxima Center is one of the coordinating partners.
Discovering, developing and marketing a new drug takes a long time, is risky and costs a lot of money. In addition, practice shows that a new treatment is often only effective in part of the patient population for which it was developed. Oncode Accelerator aims to address this problem by innovating the early, preclinical phase of development.

Friso Smit, co-executive director of Oncode Accelerator, says, 'In this early phase of development, we want to put the patient at the center. We do that through three innovation platforms on a topic well-defined patient populations, organoids (3D mini tumors derived from patients) and predictive models based on artificial intelligence.'

By connecting more than 30 public and private parties, including the Princess Máxima Center, Oncode Accelerator brings together expertise in the Netherlands. In the field of four types of cancer therapies: small molecules, therapeutic antibodies, cell and gene therapies and therapeutic vaccines. Said innovation platforms are well used: Bringing the early development process together with clinical practice increases the chances that potentially new drugs in clinical trials will eventually reach patients and prove their worth. Researchers from the Princess Máxima Center are closely involved in the innovation platform of organoids and cancer therapy development through therapeutic vaccines.

3D mini-tumors and therapeutic vaccines

Organoids are increasingly being used in the development of new drugs, within Máxima and beyond. Dr. Jarno Drost, Oncode researcher and research group leader at Máxima, is one of the specialists in this field. Together with other researchers, he leads the organoid innovation platform. 'At the Máxima, we grow and use organoids to better understand how cancer develops in children. These 3 D minitumors also help us find new targets for drugs. Together with specialists in adult oncology, we will work to make this innovative technology widely available and thereby further improve drug development within the Netherlands.'

Dr. Sebastiaan van Heesch, research group leader at Máxima, co-directs the therapeutic vaccine group. 'By examining and reading DNA, RNA and the proteins in tumor cells, we are going to identify targets for new therapeutic vaccines. For this, we use various so-called sequencing technologies and advanced data analyses. If we find a lead, then we can further develop, test and produce it into targeted cancer vaccines. We do this together with the other researchers and companies within the therapeutic vaccine working group. The various platform groups in the program, such as the artificial intelligence platform, help improve this process and research technologies. We are bringing everyone together smartly to accelerate the development of new drugs. Literally an 'accelerator'!