As the namesake of the Princess Máxima Center, Queen Máxima attended the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the institutes. She was enthusiastic about the alliance of the research centers to work for children with cancer across Europe and expressed her confidence in the success of the collaboration. The signing ceremony took place at the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, as part of the royal couple's three-day state visit to Germany.
With this 'Twinning Program', the Princess Máxima Center, the Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ), the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD) are joining forces as centers of excellence in the field of pediatric cancer research.
The Princess Máxima Centre for pediatric oncology is a research hospital where all children with cancer in the Netherlands are treated. Healthcare professionals and scientists work closely together to provide the best care, improve treatments and develop new perspectives for the future. KiTZ has also been set up according to this 'Comprehensive Cancer Center' model.
Máxima and KiTZ
The Máxima and KiTZ require a joint research budget for the coming years. Experts from both centers estimate that more than €10 million investment and donations will be needed to address the most urgent research priorities. With the aim that young patients throughout Europe and worldwide can benefit from modern therapies and diagnostics. The collaboration includes clinical studies, the expansion of infrastructures and IT platforms. This will make it possible, among other things, to share anonymized patient data for clinical studies. Other points of focus for the collaboration are the development of the latest combinations in the field of immune and targeted therapies for children and the establishment of patient-specific laboratory models.
Cancer in children is relatively rare, but still causes more than 6,000 deaths per year in Europe. By working together in Europe, even more patients can take part in precisely targeted clinical trials to increase the chances of a cure. Every year, 600 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with cancer. Across Europe, the disease affects 35,000 children and teenagers each year. About a quarter of them cannot be cured with currently available standard therapies and more than 6,000 do not survive the disease. This makes cancer the most common cause of death in children and teenagers due to disease.
Alexander Eggermont, scientific director of the Princess Máxima Center, said:
'What we have in mind with this level of collaboration is truly unique. With the joint, complementary unique infrastructure, we aim to accelerate the development of tomorrow's medicine. A 'twinning program' is open, sharing and accelerating at every step from basic and clinical research through to implementation in daily care. This approach provides the impetus for completely new perspectives on childhood cancer. Currently, one in four children with cancer does not survive the disease. To develop tomorrow's treatments as quickly as possible, we need to join forces as European centers of excellence.'
Stefan Pfister, one of the directors of the Hopp-KiTZ in Heidelberg, Germany, said:
'If we really want to improve the treatment options of children with cancer compared to the past 30 years and accelerate their development, huge investments and efforts will be needed along the entire innovation chain. That means from the laboratory to the patient.'
Michael Baumann, CEO of the DKFZ, said:
'This 'Twinning Program' of the two centers is the crystallization of an integration level that is not reached overnight, but clearly the result of many years of successful collaboration between the Princess Máxima Center and the KiTZ, the DKFZ and the UKHD in the field of pediatric oncology research. With the Princess Máxima Center, we have the best possible partner for a European alliance to cure childhood cancer in the long term.’