EU-funded MoTriColor Project for Patients with Metastatic CRC

Matching patients with three molecular groups to phase II clinical trials to explore the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the medication for each tumour subtype

On 6 January 2017, the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Information Center web portal announced that the EU-funded (Horizon 2020) MoTriColor project is seeking to develop novel therapies for advanced stage colorectal cancer (CRC) patients by targeting treatments according to each patient's disease subtype.

Strategies aimed at patient stratification depending on each individual molecular profile are currently based on tumour mutations. MoTriColor goes one step further – for the first time patients will be stratified based on their gene expression profiles and then matched to a particular clinical trial. Patient’s specific response and resistance to specific therapies will be monitored by liquid biopsies.

It is estimated that CRC is currently third in the list of incurable cancers in terms of lives lost. Because early detection is difficult, sufferers often go undiagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage, leading to particularly poor prognosis.

During a previous EU-funded project – COLTHERES – MoTriColor investigators identified several distinct subgroups of CRC. Based on these findings, the MoTriColor project is developing tailored therapeutic options for CRC using molecular tests developed by the small medium enterprise Agendia.

The objective is to improve both prognosis and treatment outcome for patients suffering from metastatic CRC who have not responded to standard therapies. It is estimated that up to 30% of these unresponsive patients present one of the disease profiles MoTriColor is addressing.

The project consortium has identified three different CRC subtypes using molecular classification. Patients will be divided into three corresponding groups for phase II clinical trials, which will explore the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the medication for each subtype. MoTriColor will also analyse any resistance to the treatments and validate the Coloprint® test developed by Agendia.

This will help medical experts identify which CRC patients may be susceptible to secondary resistance to the therapies, saving precious time in selecting treatment options during the advanced stages of the disease.

The MoTriColor project aims to set precedence for novel therapies in the wider field of chronic, non-communicable diseases by introducing the use of molecular diagnostic testing for better prognosis and treatment options. If the expected results are achieved, the project outcomes alone could benefit up to 30 000 CRC suffers in the EU today, not to mention those diagnosed in the future.

The project participants are researchers from oncology institutions from Spain (Coordinator), Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy. Total costs and EU contribution is 5 996 992 EUR. Duration of the project is until September 2019. To find out more about the MoTriColor project click here.