IMMUcan stands for “Integrated iMMUnoprofiling of large adaptive CANcer patient cohorts”

IMMUcan receives support from the European Union (grant 821558) within the Innovative Medicine Initiative 2 program and from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries.

IMMUcan was started in March 2019 and will end in August 2025.

The IMMUcan consortium is composed by 18 academic organisations from European countries, 1 patient, 2 SME and
9 pharmaceutical companies. IMMUcan is under the leadership
of Merck and EORTC.

What will IMMUcan deliver?

  • IMMUcan will generate molecular and cellular profiling data of the tumour and its microenvironment from up to 3000 cancer patients.

  • The profiling data will be integrated with clinical data collected over time. ​

  • IMMUcan will access human biological material incl. tumor tissue, blood, stool, and saliva.

  • IMMUcan focuses on colorectal, lung, head & neck, breast, and renal cancers treated with standard of care treatment, including immune checkpoints inhibitors.

  • The majority of the patients will be recruited via the SPECTA program of the EORTC. Other patients would come from  academic clinical trials.

  • IMMUcan will develop a sustainable data platform and legal framework where partners can pursue their own independent investigations.

  • IMMUcan will also support the future use of the data generated by the project by the research community.

What is the project workflow?

Workflow SPECTA

What are the timelines?

  • MAR 2019

    Project official start

  • JUN 2019

    Centralized repository of human biological materials (HBM) ready at the Integrated Biobank Of Luxembourg.

    1st patient registered in the project

  • JUL 2019

    The Knowledge Management System hosted by the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics is storing genomics and clinical data.

  • AUG 2019

    1st molecular report generated

  • SEP 2019

    IT platform and legal framework allowing academia and industry to pursue their own independent investigations utilizing IMMUcan data.

  • DEC 2019

    Immunofluorescence & imaging analyses cytometry performed on 1st batch of samples

  • APR 2021

    1st external collaborations with UPSTREAM and Dutrelasco trials

  • SEP 2021

    1st publication

  • OCT 2021

    50% of the targeted patients population recruited and samples analysed.

  • JUN 2022

    1000 patients enrolled

  • AUG 2024

    End of recruitment – up to 3000 patients recruited

  • JAN 2025

    Newly generated genomic and histological data (broad profiling) of up to 3000 patients.

    Deep profiling of understudied immune suppressive cell types, mechanisms and microenvironments in a subset of patients.

  • AUG 2025

    A well-curated and mature database which will be released to the general scientific community.

    End of IMI2 funding. Start of IMMUcan self-sustainability phase.

How is the project organised?


WP1: Project management and coordination (Merck, EORTC, SIB, Bayer)

WP1 will support optimal project management in compliance with the highest scientific and ethical standards.

WP2: Communication, Public Relations, and involvement of Patient Advocacy Groups (EPF, EORTC)

WP2 will implement a dissemination plan covering scientific communication but also information to patients and lay people.

WP3 Legal aspects (EORTC, Merck)

EORTC has taken the legal responsibility for the collection and use of patients’ biological material and clinical data for IMMUcan.  WP3 will manage legal aspects including access to project data and results by partners and 3rd parties.


WP4.1 Broad profiling (EORTC, Merck)

Genomic profiling using RNAseq & WES (CeGaT) and immune profiling multispectral analysis (CHUV) and tissue CyTOF analysis (UoZ) will be performed on all tumour samples.


WP4.2 Deep profiling (KUL, Merck, Servier).

Deep Profiling of a subset of patients will aim to characterize baseline and post treatment immune-suppressive tumour microenvironment features. WP4.2 will involve various techniques such as single cell RNAseq or liquid CyTOF.


WP5 Material, collection, processing and banking (IBBL, EORTC, Merck)

WP5 will be accountable for the collection of high quality biological samples and clinical data. IBBL is IMMUcan’s central biobank. EORTC provides access to patient material via the SPECTA program.

WP6 Biomarker validation (SIB, Abbvie)

WP6 provides a formal mechanism to prospectively evaluate proposed biomarker hypotheses, either those already formulated prior to IMMUcan or discovered from parts of IMMUcan data.


WP7 Data integration and bioinformatics (SIB, Sanofi)

WP7 will integrate and analyze the complex generated datasets using supervised and unsupervised approaches.

WP8 Database and IT infrastructure (SIB, Bayer)

WP8 will develop a dedicated knowledge management system to store and share data and results. A web portal and tools enabling access to raw and processed data will be set up.