Cancer IO Project

Cancer IO is a cancer immunotherapy focused collaborative research and innovation project that is a part of the Business Finland’s Personalized Health Program

This Uni­versity of Hel­sinki coordinated project integ­rates immuno-oncology (IO) activ­ities at the Uni­ver­sities of Hel­sinki and Turku, several Uni­versity hos­pitals and a central hos­pital, Finnish small or medium enter­prises, cancer patient organ­iz­a­tions and the IO-investing phar­ma­ceutical com­panies. With a total funding of 10 million euros, Cancer IO is one of the largest IO focused research and innov­ation pro­grams in Europe.

Why immuno-oncology?

Recently, the rapid devel­opment of immuno-oncology (IO) ther­apies has trans­formed the cancer treatment land­scape for many dif­ferent types of cancer.

Early capture of IO con­cepts in research, hos­pitals and society is important since IO is a fun­da­mentally dif­ferent approach to cancer treatment. While tra­di­tional chemo­therapy drugs display more general tox­icity acting not only on cancer cells, but also normal cells, IO treat­ments unlock the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. In essence, IO is a broad thera­peutic master plan to out­smart cancer, now becoming available in the clinic with an unpre­ced­ented number of new invest­ig­a­tional drugs cur­rently developed by estab­lished and emerging pharma com­panies in the world.

Impact of IO on society, research and healthcare

The coming age of IO will have a trans­form­ative impact on fun­da­mental and clinical cancer research, healthcare systems, business and, most import­antly, on the lives of cancer patients.

Indi­vidual Finnish researchers, hos­pitals and small com­panies have already excelled in cap­turing and devel­oping IO strategies to match the ongoing evol­ution in the field of cancer research and care but, so far these efforts have lacked syn­ergies that broader coordinated national col­lab­or­ative can offer. 

Cancer IO boosts the Finnish IO cap­ab­il­ities by sup­porting top-level research, business com­pet­it­iveness, indi­vidu­al­iz­ation of care and com­petence in cap­turing real-world evidence. In broader picture, Cancer IO drives cre­ation of a Finnish IO eco­system and national IO growth strategy, aiming to provide wealth and well-being through dis­ruptive Finnish IO innov­a­tions and better care.

Cancer IO looks at immun­o­ther­apies from 360 degree per­spective. Our three core themes focus on Society, Research and Health Care