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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

Public engagement includes the provision of scientifically accurate

information via the ACF website

( He


patients can find information on different cancer types, current

treatments, a clinical trials gateway, and guides on dietary and

lifestyle interventions.

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.

Scientific research

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

peer-reviewed journals.

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

breakthrough opportunities.

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 Fund

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 Fund

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