Innovative Medicines Initiative: European recognition of Luxembourg’s biobanking expertise

IBBL is taking part in two IMI projects, LITMUS (Liver Investigation: Testing Marker Utility in Steatohepatitis) and CANCER-ID (Cancer treatment and monitoring through identification of circulating tumour cells and tumour related nucleic acids in blood). LITMUS aims to develop and validate highly accurate blood tests and imaging techniques that will allow doctors and researchers to rapidly and easily diagnose the severity of the disease in individual patients and monitor changes in their livers. The objective of CANCER-ID is to develop new, less invasive ways of capturing cancerous cells and cancer genetic material from blood samples and analysing them for clues to what treatment is needed and how well drugs are working. The project focuses initially on specific types of lung and breast cancer.

Luxinnovation discusses the biobank’s involvement in the projects with Kristin Kornerup (KK), Project Manager at IBBL. 

What is IBBL’s contribution to these two IMI projects?

KK: IBBL has been chosen as the central biobank of LITMUS. As such, it will gather all the biological samples currently stored at the other partners’ sites. IBBL will also serve as the central collection and storage site for the samples that will be freshly collected for the LITMUS project from at least 1,500 patients across Europe. We will store blood, plasma, serum, DNA, RNA, urine, stool and liver biopsies and create a catalogue of the samples and associated data to be made available to the research community.

In CANCER-ID, IBBL contributes to the validation of laboratory methods, the development of standard operating procedures and of a proficiency testing programme.

What kind of results are you aiming for? How do they translate into benefits for Luxembourg?

KK: The aim of CANCER-ID is to validate the use of specific blood-based biomarkers for the early diagnosis of cancer. In addition, these could help monitor the efficacy of treatment, as well as assisting clinicians with the choice of the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

At the national level, IBBL will bring its expertise in biobanking and biomarker validation to the EU consortia, thus increasing Luxembourg’s visibility and strengthening its reputation as a centre of excellence among internationally-renowned universities, SMEs and pharmaceutical companies. Ultimately, the results of the projects will translate into better healthcare both for European and Luxembourgish patients.

What does the IMI participation bring to IBBL?

KK: Given the competitiveness of IMI grants, IBBL is very proud to have been selected as a partner of these two prestigious consortia. Our participation in the projects further confirms our international reputation as a reliable, quality-driven biobank and a valuable partner. Our involvement in two IMI grants has contributed to strengthening our network of partners and our growing portfolio of European and international projects.

IMI is the world’s biggest public-private partnership in the field of life sciences. The initiative has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2020 through which it funds research aiming to speed up the development of, and patient access to, innovative medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. On December 14th 2018, its first 10 years of funding medical breakthroughs will be celebrated by an international conference and networking event taking place in Luxembourg.

To register for the IMI conference, visit the dedicated website.