CIHR – Operating Grant: TRANSCAN-3 Pre-Proposal

Well-being, Health and Biomedical Discovery


Academic Unit: Inquire with your unit

Memorial Deadline: Tuesday 22nd, June 2021

External Deadline: Tuesday 29th, June 2021


In the last decades, the understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for cancer development and progression has significantly improved. This led to the introduction in the clinic of a wealth of targeted therapeutic agents with a corresponding increase in survival and improvement in the quality of life of cancer patients. In this context, a major breakthrough is represented by the clinical validation of the concept that the immune system is capable of recognizing cancer cells and controlling tumour growth, which paved the way to the introduction of immunotherapeutic agents in the clinical practice. Cancer immunotherapy, in particular with checkpoint inhibitors, and more recently with adoptive chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy, has revolutionized outcomes for an increasing number of cancer patients and cancer indications over the past ten years.

However, the high proportion of cancer patients resistant to and suffering from debilitating side effects of cancer immunotherapy still remains a huge issue. In this context, it is now becoming evident that resistance is largely influenced by the composition of the tumour microenvironment (TME). The TME is a complex milieu that contains heterogeneous populations of cancer cells, non-malignant cells of various origin and non-cellular components which all together orchestrate complex and dynamic dialogs. Among the cellular components, the immune cells play an important role in tumour growth and progression, and strategies to target them are expected to increase the chance of success of new and pre-existing cancer immunotherapies. Recently, the composition of different gut and tumour microbiome as well as the virome have been identified as being able to mediate anticancer immune surveillance. Understanding the complexity of TME dynamic dialogs should allow to identify appropriate targets and develop predictive biomarkers of treatment outcome and drug resistance. It is reasonable to predict that targeting the TME will yield the next breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy.

Molecular and functional phenotypes of diverse TMEs should be achieved by strategies directed to combine technologies, resources and data, highlighting the needs of developing integrated approaches. For instance, but not limited to, single-cell/multi-omics approaches are technologies providing unique opportunities for elucidating TME dynamic dialogs especially for the improvements in spatial mapping and quantification approaches. Also, there is growing evidence from pre‚Äźclinical and clinical research that women and men differ significantly in susceptibility to common cancers, and demonstrate differences in immune and treatment responses. This appears to be a relevant issue in the management of the disease, and studies investigating the role of sex and gender are extremely urgent and could contribute to the development of patient-centered and personalized cancer immunotherapy treatments. To achieve this, research groups should find the best way to share, integrate and combine tools and data in order to optimize their use and to obtain robust results directly transferable to the clinic.

Against this background, the TRANSCAN-3 partners have agreed to focus their first Joint Transnational Call for proposals (JTC 2021) on: “Next generation cancer immunotherapy: targeting the tumour microenvironment”.

TRANSCAN-3 aims at promoting highly innovative and ambitious collaborative projects in translational cancer research at the European and international level, and considers that, based on the previous grounds, it is timely and relevant to foster the translation of new knowledge on TME functions into clinical practices.

Despite advances in immunotherapies, obstacles and challenges, including limited response rates, the inability to predict clinical efficacy, and potential side effects such as autoimmune reactions or cytokine release syndromes, remain and hinder further applications of immunotherapies in clinics. Thus, a deeper understanding of the TME, able to dissect distinct classes and subclasses of it, is essential for deciphering new mechanisms of immunotherapies, defining new predictive biomarkers, and identifying novel therapeutic targets.

In the context of translational research, this topic at the intersection of laboratory and clinical research in immuno-oncology will comprise two general aims which concur to the possible clinical applications. Proposals will have to cover at least one of the six (6) specific aims listed below. Approaches should be directed to draw up a multidimensional TME map paving the road for new efficacious immunotherapy strategies. Projects should be built from a solid and established hypothesis and should be relevant with regards to the possible improvements in clinical practice.

Planned Time Schedule

  • April 20, 2021——————-Opening of the on-line submission system for pre-proposals
  • June 29, 2021 ——————Deadline for Pre-proposals submission
  • November 5, 2021 ————communication of the results of the pre-proposal assessment and invitation for full-proposal stage
  • November 19, 2021———–Opening of the submission system for full proposals
  • December 20, 2021 ———-Deadline for full-proposal submission
  • Expected for May 2022-—–Communication of the funding decisions to the applicants
  • October/November 2022 —Expected project start ( also subject to regional/national procedures)

Call deadlines will be strictly enforcedand the electronic systemwill not allow submissions after call deadlines.Please take into account that the online data entry may be overloaded onthe day of the deadline. It is therefore recommended to upload all the required material in due time.

Funding Sources

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

This opportunity was posted by: RGCS

Last modified: May 11, 2021