The aim of the National Centre for Tumour Diseases (NCT) is to promote innovative, patient-oriented cancer research, rapid transfer to patient care and the training of young scientists. The NCT is a building block of the National Decade against Cancer, which the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) announced at the beginning of 2019 to strengthen cancer research and thus also the treatment of people suffering from cancer. So far, there are two NCT sites in Germany, in Heidelberg and Dresden. Now four new locations have been selected: Berlin, Cologne/Essen, Tübingen/Stuttgart-Ulm and Würzburg with partners Erlangen, Regensburg and Augsburg.
New NCT sites are also GBA sites
Decisive for the site selection based on the recommendation of an international panel of experts was not only the scientific excellence but also the already existing expertise to bring care and research together. Furthermore, a clearly recognisable added value for patients and the contribution to innovative personalised oncology had to be highlighted in the applications. The four new NCT sites are also sites of the German Biobank Alliance (GBA) with the Central Biobank of the Charité and BIH (ZeBanC) in Berlin, the West German Biobank Essen (WBE), the Central Biobank of the CCC Tübingen-Stuttgart, the Interdisciplinary Biomaterial and Database Würzburg (ibdw) and the Central Biobank Regensburg (ZBR).
Berlin: Further development of molecular diagnostic and therapeutic options
"Precision oncology has made enormous progress in recent years thanks to in-depth molecular tumour diagnostics in combination with a rapidly growing number of targeted therapy options," says Prof. Dr. Michael Hummel, Head of the Central Biobank of the Charité and the BIH and also of the German Biobank Node (GBN). "The establishment of four new NCT facilities in Germany will intensify and accelerate this development. It is an excellent decision that the Charité, as one of the largest top oncological centres in Europe, will make a significant contribution to this. This also includes the further development of new molecular diagnostic and therapeutic options, which are decisively based on the use of high-quality biosamples. ZeBanC in Berlin is a competent and efficient partner for this purpose."
WERA: Supply of innovative cancer therapies to rural regions
Prof. Dr. Roland Jahns, Head of the Interdisciplinary Biomaterial and Database Würzburg comments: "We are pleased to have been given the opportunity to establish one of the four new NCT sites under the leadership of Würzburg as the WERA network in Bavaria." The coordinator of NCT WERA is Professor Hermann Einsele from Würzburg, cancer expert and director of the Medical University Hospital II. His aim is to provide innovative cancer therapies to people in predominantly rural regions. The ibdw has a special role to play here. Jahns: "Through the strictly quality-controlled collection of blood and tissue samples from patients, we support our cancer researchers in their search for special biomarkers for individual cancer diseases and thus make a decisive contribution to the development of new therapy concepts."
From strategy phase to institutional funding
Good cooperation between all NCT sites is the key to success: sharing infrastructure and data, exchanging information in cross-site tumour boards, what would be the best treatment - all these things have to be clarified in advance to ensure that the NCT works smoothly. To achieve this unity, a one-year strategy phase will be funded initially. In this phase, the new sites will clarify all relevant issues of governance and cooperation together with the existing ones. The strategy concept drawn up will be submitted again to the international panel of experts in one year's time. A positive vote is a prerequisite for the subsequent institutional funding. Each of the four new locations can receive up to 13 million euros per year from the BMBF in the final stage. The respective host county provides a building and also contributes to the annual funding.
Further information and links: