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Environmental cancer risk, nutrition and individual susceptibility

Final Report Summary - ECNIS (Environmental cancer risk, nutrition and individual susceptibility)

The project brought together some of the best European research groups from 25 institutions of 13 countries active in the area of environmental cancer and its modulation by nutrition and genetic makeup, into a durable network of partners to conduct high-class research on cancer causation and prevention.

ECNIS researchers have performed in-depth evaluations of the state of science relevant to cancer etiology and have formulated corresponding proposals for future research. The conclusions of such deliberations were published in the series 'ECNIS reports' and disseminated in the form of workshops directed at a broad range of stakeholders.

Within ECNIS a special effort has been made to facilitate the optimal utilisation of already existing knowledge and data, through the construction of the 'Molecular epidemiology and cancer' (MEC) database, which brings together the data of a number of population studies, thus providing increased statistical power to evaluate the influence of various environmental or other factors on cancer risk. Currently MEC incorporates: information on exposure, including nutrition and cancer chemoprevention, biomarkers of exposure, biomarkers of individual susceptibility, cytogenetic and other genotoxic damage, data sets of molecular epidemiology studies.

An ECNIS repository (please see online) has been developed in the form of electronic platform for storing and providing access to digital documents dealing with the matters of environmental hazards for cancer. It has an open access service, and enables reading, copying and printing full texts of the publications. It ensures efficient propagation of the scientific research results. ECNIS repository includes ECNIS review, which is an annotated biomarkers bibliographic database covering relevant publications since 2006 focusing mainly on experimental or field studies on the development, validation and application of biomarkers of exposure to environmental carcinogens, biomarkers of effect and genetic susceptibility, and modulation by the environment, food or lifestyle of cancer risk or related biomarkers.

The stimulus for the ECNIS Network of Excellence during its planning in 2004 was that although several multinational efforts had been undertaken, research on the association of environmental cancer risk, nutrition and individual susceptibility was to a large extent highly fragmented within the Europan Union due to a lack of coordination of research sponsoring, which in turn negatively or adversely affected the conduct of work. The ECNIS Network of Excellence successfully contributed to the realisation of an integrated European Research Area (ERA) by improving the coherence and coordination across the community of relevant research activities in the field of biomarkers and molecular cancer epidemiology.

The main focus of the Network of Excellence was to bring together researchers from relevant areas to identify data gaps and forward suggestions for improvements of existing techniques, to utilise common material as well as human resources in the conduct of new studies, and to lay the theoretical and practical foundations for merging European efforts. ECNIS enabled national systems to take on tasks collectively that they would not have been able to tackle independently, and also resulted in avoiding duplication of research. This goal was partially achieved by providing an integrated platform for the pooling of resources and joint interdisciplinary activities in such diverse areas as the sharing of research infrastructures, the operation of an extensive exchange and training scheme, the preparation of a large number of high-level reports on the state of science and research strategy, the dissemination of new knowledge to policy makers and other stakeholders and, last but not least, the conduct of collaborative research.

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