“Modern cancer research requires new and advanced infrastructures”

– The objective of the PCM Program is to create the best possible conditions for internationally competitive research in individualized cancer treatment. Having co-funded four promising pilot projects is an important part of this work, says Claes Karlsson, program director of the PCM Program.

PCM program at Karolinska Institutet began in autumn 2014, thanks to funding from the Radiumhemmets research funds. PCM stands for “Personalised Cancer Medicine, a concept that has become increasingly relevant as the development of tumour biology have greatly expanded. Today, researchers can use technology to study the tumour deviations on an individual level, which opens up opportunities for more precise prognosis and treatment.

The overall objective of PCM is to create international competitiveness in research for personalised cancer treatment. To achieve this cooperation is needed on all levels.

– The new research requires a completely different infrastructure than is common for traditional research. To identify the specific abnormalities and treat along their significance for tumour cell survival requires advanced diagnostics, detailed treatment and not least advanced technologies where the development is rapid and therefore capital-intensive. It is not possible to accommodate all this within a traditional research group or institution to handle the task, there must be cooperation locally, nationally and internationally, says Claes Karlsson.

Four projects

After two years, the program has reached a milestone, the launching of four pilot projects selected by leading international experts in cancer research. A total of 6.64 million Swedish Crowns are distributed to research for personalised cancer treatment. The projects study the role of specific abnormalities in individuals’ tumour tissue. Deviations that in turn serve as a basis for customized treatment recommendations.

– That the PCM program is co-financing the projects is an important part to build knowledge that can then serve as a model for other researchers in the field of personalized cancer treatment, says Claes Karlsson.

Mattias Löhr, medical consultant and professor at the Karolinska Institute is the principal investigator for one of the selected projects.

– It is very inspiring to know that the projects where reviewed by international experts from major European centres. This is an important recognition and gives us extra power to work on PCM research here in Stockholm.

He points out that all agree on that the future of cancer treatment will be much more individualized than today. However to achieve this is complicated and requires new collaborative projects, such as the PCM program.

– All lack some experience in this field of research, that it’s why it is so important to create a organization where people can learn from each other. We who work in the pilot projects have to learn the hard way and hopefully our experience will be generalizable so that this knowledge can be spread through our network, says Matthias Löhr.


  • Radiumhemmets research funds allocated in 2014 five million SEK / year for three years to develop research on PCM within the Karolinska Institutet (KI) and the Karolinska University Hospital.
  • Project leaders are KI-Professor Rolf Lewensohn and Ingemar Ernberg, Professor of Tumour Biology at KI, chairman of the National Institute’s Cancer Network.
  • The PCM Program has awarded research grants to four research groups at KI. Principal investigators for the projects are: Jonas Bergh, Henrik Grönberg, Rolf Lewensohn and Matthias Löhr, all professors at KI.
  • The PCM Program is also appointed to ensure the cooperation with Cancer Core Europe, a group of six leading cancer centres in Europe, whose mission is to harmonize European cancer care.