Professor Kjersti Flatmark (Departments of Tumor Biology and Gastroenterological Surgery) was recently elected Chair of the EuroPMP COST Action, aimed at creating better networking opportunities for researchers and clinicians working to find a cure for rare cancer pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP).
A European initiative, spearheaded by Flatmark's research group, was in April 2018 awarded a four-year COST Action grant to coordinate research into rare cancer pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP). COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) seeks to coordinate research in Europe through funding aimed at building cooperative environments for research across countries and disciplines. The EuroPMP COST Action (European Network on Pseudomyxoma Peritonei) will bring together PMP researchers in Europe to create a solid collaborative environment to help light the path toward better treatment for patients with PMP.
Pseudomyxoma peritonei is an extremely rare cancer, affecting 2-3 people per million each year. The disease is marked by accumulation of mucinous tumor tissue within the abdominal cavity, and is caused by proliferation of mucin-producing tumor cells. Large amounts of tumor in the abdomen results in distension and discomfort (often called “jelly belly”), and ultimately causes organ failure through compression if not treated. Up to 70% of cases can be successfully treated by surgery and intraperitoneal chemotherapy. In Norway, this treatment is offered at the Norwegian Radium Hospital, which hosts the Norwegian National Unit for treatment of peritoneal cancer. However, for the 30% of the patients for whom the standard treatment fails, no efficacious treatment exists and the prognosis is extremely poor.
Several challenges exist in the field, most pertaining to the rarity of the disease, including misdiagnosis, which results in patients not receiving the correct treatment. Also, state-of-the-art therapy is not available in all European countries, both because of lack of equipment and insufficient competence. The rarity of the disease also results in challenges regarding availability of samples for molecular analysis. In this context, EuroPMP aims to make real and lasting changes that may promote dissemination of knowledge, agreement on clinical, radiological and pathological protocols as well as coordination of biobanking and analytical protocols for research purposes. More than fifty researchers and clinicians from 17 European countries (Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, FYRo Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) have already pledged to be part of the initiative, sharing knowledge and experience to improve research efforts in the field.
The COST programme is funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union.