Cancer is a major health problem in the European Union (EU), and colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most prevalent tumor (Bray et al. 2018). To combat this, the EU has enforced important R&D measures such as Europe's Beating Cancer Plan and the EU Mission: Cancer. However, the alarming numbers of new reported CRC cases in the EU-27 and the lives it claims are expected to rise by 27% in the next two decades due to various factors. To address this, we need immediate solutions to better prevent, treat, and manage CRC (Keum et. al. 2019).
One solution is liquid biopsy, which allows for a less invasive way to assess tumor molecular features (Yiu and Yiu. 2016). Despite a plethora of published CRC biomarkers, there is still a need to identify and develop novel, clinically useful biomarkers that can improve disease outcome. There are still many unknowns about the patient-specific biological determinants of tumor initiation and dissemination, or how clonality affects disease progression and response. In addition, the lack of standardization and reproducibility of the assays and the need for biomarker research sustainability beyond a project are also issues.
The ColoMARK initiative proposes a European excellence doctoral network that will undertake 10 ground-breaking research projects to produce better CRC biomarkers using a novel liquid biopsy approach. This will be the basis of future CRC management. ColoMARK will provide cross- and interdisciplinary innovative training to young researchers that will constitute the next generation of effective, multi-skilled, and proactive future professionals. This initiative is the only European one to couple excellence training with liquid biopsy CRC biomarker research. With the expertise and collaboration of the nine expert beneficiary teams and eight associated partners, ColoMARK aims to make significant progress in the battle against CRC.