hile the ACF is a relatively small science-led
organisation it has an international reach which
extends beyond the borders of Belgium. This
manifests itself both in supporting projects in different countries
and in presenting scientific information to the public in multiple
languages. Scientific and public engagement is a key factor in the
range of ACF projects and activities.
Public engagement includes the provision of scientifically accurate
information via the ACF website(www.anticancerfund.org). He
patients can find information on different cancer types, current
treatments, a clinical trials gateway, and guides on dietary and
The ACF takes seriously the task of ‘quack busting’ and has been
active in exposing the activities of fraudsters who exploit vulnerable
cancer patients. For example, there is an active group of people in
Europe selling a fake cure called GcMAF. The ACF has been active
in informing the authorities, publishing factual information for
patients and ensuring retraction of fraudulent scientific articles.
The ACF’s engagement with the public includes direct support for
individual patients seeking new options. The ACF’s medically and
scientifically trained staff provide personalised information to
patients based on their case histories. Since 2010 over 500
patients, primarily from France, Belgium and the Netherlands,
have used this service.
ACF public engagement increasingly involves policy interventions.
The ACF believes that as a society we need to ensure that no
treatment option is left untapped. As such there are three strands
of research on non-mainstream treatments: drug repurposing,
non-pharmaceutical interventions, and non-commercial
immunotherapies. The objective is to bring these non-mainstream
treatments into mainstream clinical practice.
The Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project is a
collaboration with the US not-for-profit organisation GlobalCures.
The aim is to identify a range of existing non-cancer drugs which
show strong evidence of anticancer activity and have the potential
for clinical use. Taking evidence from a variety of sources, the
project has published the results on a range of common drugs in
The ACF also aims to confirm this promising data in well-designed
clinical trials. The ultimate goal is to persuade other foundations,
as well as European and national governments, to start mining
this relatively unexplored field of affordable and potentially
Another key research area is non-pharmaceutical interventions,
which covers nutritional and lifestyle changes.Whilst these are
gaining more public attention there are important issues to tackle
in order to allow their proper evaluation as additions to current
standards of care: the quality of supplements and plant extracts
need to be guaranteed, mind body interventions standardised
and clinical trial guidelines adapted.
The final research area is immunotherapy – with an emphasis on
non-patentable cellular immunotherapy or combinations of the latest
generation of highly expensive drugs with low cost interventions.
The patient focus of ACF is also reflected in the support of clinical
trials in patient populations with high unmet needs – particularly
rare, refractory or metastatic cancers. An example is a multicentre
trial in France with repurposed drugs in advanced osteosarcoma.
The ACF is also looking at the institutional and regulatory
obstacles to these non-mainstream treatments. These treatments
must be compared to standard of care, but this is not always a
simple task. For example, trials using herbal extracts or
nutraceuticals as a monotherapy are problematic due to current
European clinical trial directives.Whilst trials in drug repurposing
are easier to initiate, there are obstacles to clinical adoption when
positive results are reported. For example, there are instances
where repurposed drugs have shown evidence of efficacy but have
not been adopted or re-licensed. Changing practice is hard and
the ACF believes it needs the involvement of all stakeholders to
make it happen.
If we are to deliver on the potential benefits of these commercially
neglected therapies, particularly with globally rocketing health
system costs, these non-scientific barriers must be overcome.
Anticancer Fundinfo@anticancerfund.org www.anticancerfund.org
The Belgian-based Anticancer Fund (ACF) is a private not-for-profit foundation
dedicated to expanding the range of treatment options available to patients
The Anticancer Fundwww.horizon2020projects.com
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
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P R O F I L E
C A N C E R & C A R D I O V A S C U L A R D I S E A S E