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Awareness and Diagnosis; Treatment


January 2023 - December 2027

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DISCERN – Discovering the causes of three poorly understood cancers in Europe

Project Summary:  

The overall goal of DISCERN is to understand the causes of three poorly understood cancers in Europe; renal, pancreatic and colorectal cancer, and help to explain their geographical distribution, including their high incidence in central and eastern Europe. This will be achieved by combining large-scale European biorepositories comprising population-based cohorts and tumour case-series with state-of-the-art molecular profiling techniques and machine-learning approaches. In particular, DISCERN will identify potential new causal risk factors for the three cancers using novel exposomics and proteomics scans, as well detailed geospatial and environmental exposure information from 16 large-scale epidemiological cohorts including almost 900,000 individuals. It will also explore biological mechanisms on how these risk factors are potentially causing these cancer types with a focus on promoting factors in normal tissues using deep sequencing, single-cell multi-omics and spatial proteomics. The causal effects of identified cancer risk factors and the cellular signalling responses they trigger will be further evaluated using a panel of stem cells and colon, renal and pancreatic 3D organoids. The results from DISCERN will be disseminated to citizens, patients and policymakers through collaborating patient and participant organisations. DISCERN will provide the critical evidence base required to develop new prevention strategies to tackle the growing burden of renal, pancreatic and colorectal cancer in Europe. This action is part of the Cancer Mission cluster of projects on “Understanding”.

Project Coordinator:

IARC – International Agency for Research on Cancer (France)