Horizon Europe must focus on human-centric approaches to maximise impact
If Horizon Europe’s Cancer Mission is to be a model for effective science, research funding must focus on computational approaches and sophisticated human cell-based models, such as patient-derived organoids, and other innovative, human-relevant methodologies that can better model human cancer. Focusing research efforts on the ultimate species of interest — the human — will offer a faster route to personalised treatments for people with cancer today and will provide an effective platform for evaluating new treatments.
Currently, cancer research maintains a heavy reliance on animals and athymic, nude mice in particular. These animals lack a fully functioning immune system, facilitating their use as incubators for human tumours. This is in contrast to recent developments, including an increased understanding of the importance of the tumour microenvironment, documented issues with infiltration of mouse stromal cells to human tumours in the animal models, recent research revealing the development of significant changes in the nature of the tumours when human cancers are implanted into animals, and the rising interest in immunotherapies as targeted cancer treatments.