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DIOPTRA – Early Dynamic Screening for Colorectal Cancer via novel Protein Biomarkers Reflecting Biological Initiation Mechanisms

On 26 January 2023 DIOPTRA, a Horizon Europe project, kicked off in Athens and online. Over the next four years, HOPE will be part of the 28-partner project consortium coordinated by the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS), which focuses on early dynamic screening for colorectal cancer (CRC).

Statistics show that colorectal cancer is the third most common tumour in men and the second in women, accounting for 10% of all tumours worldwide. It ranks second in cancer-related deaths at 9.4%, after lung cancer. While CRC is now considered to be a highly preventable disease, several factors, such as long waiting times for colonoscopies, a lack of robust infrastructure for sample analysis, and patient-related barriers (such as fear, socio-demographic, psychosocial, economic, or geographic) deter systematic monitoring and follow-up.

In this context, DIOPTRA aspires to become a driving force in creating change in colorectal cancer screening and everyday medical practice through accessible and non-invasive risk estimation, employing straightforward liquid biopsies to stratify citizens in need of a definitive assessment. Via DIOPTRA, screening and early detection may become faster, more precise, personalised, accessible, and affordable, breaking the path to better health.

Against the backdrop of taxing procedures hindering citizens from seeking screening on a scheduled basis and the lack of EU-wide standardised screening, DIOPTRA aims to introduce a front-line clinical decision support tool that will consider risk factors and protein biomarkers to aid the identification of high-risk cases in actual need of a colonoscopy.

The DIOPTRA consortium consists of 28 partners from 15 countries, including universities (medical and technical), clinical partners such as hospitals, companies specialised in innovation, AI, data security, legal aspects, and biological data analysis, policymakers, and a European organisation (HOPE). Our role will consist in supporting the project’s dissemination, communication, and policy aims.

DIOPTRA website: https://www.dioptra-project.eu/.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 101096649.