COMPASS: Working Together for Children with Cancer

A joint transnational research project called COMPASS is combining the power of molecular and microscopy-based techniques to discover new treatment approaches to combat cancer in children. By using sophisticated, high-throughput screening, researchers are able to simultaneously test multiple drugs and virtually investigate a large number of drugs. This exciting project will add a valuable dimension to diagnostics and lead the way to verify never before used combinations of medications.

The COMPASS project is coordinated by the Hopp Children’s Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ) in southern Germany. The concept is the basis of the transnational COMPASS (Clinical implementation Of Multidimensional PhenotypicAl drug SenSitivities in pediatric precision oncology) project, which is funded by the European consortium ERA PerMed in the amount of 1.5 million euros over a period of three years. The ERA PerMed is an association focused on the promotion of personalized medicine projects, with 32 partners from over 23 countries. It is co-funded by the European Commission.

According to the staff at KiTZ, “the goal is to build an international, standardized and validated platform for drug testing based on image analysis and accompanying molecular analysis that characterizes and classifies different types of tumors for their response to different drugs." In the long run, the data will be translated into clinical trials conducted at KiTZ in an effort to ensure that affected children benefit as quickly as possible from the findings. This aggressive research may result in a quicker turnaround from clinical trial to practical use in cancer treatment centers at children's hospitals. Children with certain types of cancers would be able to get treatment faster, and potentially, more effectively.

This type of transnational cooperation is becoming a standard in the medical field because it helps doctors and scientists pool their resources and know-how and open the doors to shared understanding. Along with KiTZ, there are five additional scientific institutions which make up the COMPASS partner project, namely: the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam (AMC) (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), the Institute Curie (Paris, France), Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) and University of Helsinki (Finland), Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology (Utrecht, The Netherlands), and a startup company called Single Cell Technologies Inc. (Szeged, Hungary).

Combined therapy research projects like COMPASS are opening the doors to the untapped future of oncology treatment for all kinds of patients. Many young patients and their families may have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. Premier Healthcare Germany is excited to have to the possibility to share the findings of the research with our clients.

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