What kept us busy these past months? An exciting and important Oncode co-lead new consortium, a company targeting senescence in oncology, highlights from our Annual Meeting - read below to find out about Oncode’s impact.

Outsmarting cancer

impacting lives


Oncode is co-lead of the new PERSIST-SEQ consortium

90% of people who die from cancer respond well to the first treatment, but the cancer is fatal upon its return. In these cases, the tumor has often become resistant to the treatment that initially worked. PERSIST-SEQ, a new international consortium of academic and industry experts in cancer research, will spend the next 5 years intensively investigating why cancer often returns after treatment. The consortium is led by Oncode Institute and AstraZeneca. The funding of 7 million euros is provided by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

Therapy resistance is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths and is clinically difficult to predict, prevent or treat. Although resistance has been studied extensively in recent decades, it is still unclear how it arises at the cellular level. “Why does cancer come back after treatment and why does it often come back worse? Using single-cell sequencing and organoid technology, we can answer this question at the cellular level,” says Principal Investigator Alexander van Oudenaarden (Hubrecht Institute and Oncode Institute). "We hope to explain why cancer reappears in different tissue types after treatment and why the reappeared tumor cells grow faster." The ambition of Oncode Institute is to test treatment inventions as quickly as possible in patients who could potentially benefit from new treatments.

Read more about this consortium here.

Credits: Single Cell Discoveries, image of single-cell sequencing analysis


Oncode and NKI spinout a new company targeting senescence in oncology

Over the last 5 years, Oncode Investigator Rene Bernards’ laboratory at the NKI has focused on understanding senescence and its role in tumour biology. This has now culminated in a new company: Oncosense. In the coming months, Oncosence will screen and develop compounds that selectively induce senescence in cancer cells. This is far from trivial, as it requires deep biological understanding of a complex phenomenon such as senescence, bespoke assays and screening tools needed to develop first in class drugs against such targets. In this endeavour, Rene Bernards - the scientific mind - has teamed up with Rolf Jan Rutten, a serial entrepreneur and also CEO of the newco. With already identified and validated targets and an initial investment from the Oncode Bridge Fund, the company is now gearing up to raise additional funds to develop them clinically. Read more about Oncosense on our website.


Looking back at the third edition of Oncode’s CGC Annual Scientific Meeting

As preparations were in progress for our third Oncode CGC Annual Scientific Meeting, the COVID-19 governmental restrictions kept changing. We had to take some decisions in this shifting environment and the best option was to broadcast the event from a studio and have everything fully online. And even though we did not get a chance to see each other in real life, this year’s edition had a unique flavour of its own. We look back at a successful and interesting event, packed with science and online networking. Curious what you've missed? Read the highlights of the event here.


Clinical trial with new lung cancer vaccine started

Oncode is proud to announce the start of a new clinical trial at Erasmus MC with a vaccine against non-small cell lung cancer. The vaccine teaches the immune system of lung cancer patients to recognize and clear tumor cells. Developed in the lab of Oncode Investigator Sjoerd van der Burg at Leiden University Medical Center, the technology may offer relief to a large proportion of the nearly 10,000 patients who receive this diagnosis each year.

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer. In 80% of cases, the tumor is already unresponsive to existing treatments, including forms of immunotherapy, at the time of diagnosis. Treatment options for these people are therefore very limited. The research team led by Sjoerd van der Burg and Joachim Aerts, pulmonoray oncologist at Erasmus MC, hopes to change this with an innovative approach based on a therapeutic vaccine.

For Oncode, the start of this trial marks an important milestone. Since its founding in 2018, the institute has focused on funding basic cancer research and translating its results into practical applications for patients. "That translation is not easy," says Chris De Jonghe, valorization director of Oncode Institute. "It's a profession in itself, which is why we've brought together a team of specialists at Oncode to help our researchers do this." In addition, Oncode offers additional funding opportunities to make this translation possible, such as for the early phases of clinical research. The vaccine that will now be tested is a new product whose entire development was funded by Oncode. "It took only three years to get from the first publication of the research results to the start of this clinical trial. This underlines Oncode's mission to accelerate the translation of basic research into new treatments for patients. And of course, above all, we hope for positive outcomes for patients with lung cancer" concludes de Jonghe.

Read more about this trial on our website [link toevoegen nog niet beschikbaar]