4 Million euros for next ITN research project ONCORNET2.0

The EU has granted 4 million euros to Martine Smit and Jacqueline van Muijlwijk (Medicinal Chemistry/AIMMS/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and colleagues from academia and SMEs form the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, UK and Switzerland.

Martine Smit and Jacqueline van Muijlwijk are leading this European research consortium, named ONCORNET2.0. The project builds on the success of ONCORNET (Oncogenic GPCR Network of Excellence and Training), a first-in-kind in GPCR drug discovery that has succesfully delivered scientific advance and training to 15 talented early stage researchers (ESRs). This project was also led by the VU.

ONCORNET2.0 will incorporate recent scientific and technological breakthroughs (e.g. cryo-EM, CRISPR-Cas, advanced microscopy) to understand and target two oncogenic G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs); the chemokine receptors CXCR4 and ACKR3 (CXCR7). These are highly expressed in multiple tumours but their role in cancer progression remains poorly understood. We will develop new strategis for CXCR4/ACKR3 modulation (formatted nanobodies, photswitchable ligands) and investigate their effects on oncogenic responsen, to yield key new knowledge (using systems biology) and potential leads for drug development.

Leading reasearch groups in Europe

ONCORNET2.0 will bring together the leading GPCR research groups in Europe and will educate the next generation of young researchers (15 PhD students) by multi-disciplinary training.

This programme integrates both research (e.g. drug discovery, proteomics, imaging) and transferable (e.g. entrepreneurship, academic writing, media training) skill set through blended learning. This will ensure that the ESRs can effectively operate in today’s drug discovery programs and will increase European competitiveness in the field of drug discovery.


The following academis groups will work together in this European research consortium:

Martine Smit, Jacqueline van Muijlwijk, Rob Leurs, Iwan de Esch (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL)
Steve Hill, Meritxell Canals, Steve Briddon (University of Nottingham, UK)
Philippe Marin, Thierry Durroux, Sébastien Granier, Jean Philippe Pin (CNRS, FR)
Martin Lohse (Max-Delbruck-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, DE)
Carsten Hoffmann (Universitätsklinikum Jena, DE)
Françoise Bachelerie, Géraldine Schlecht-Louf (INSERM, FR)
Federico Mayor, Petronila Penela (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, ES)
Graeme Milligan, Gerry Graham (University of Glasgow, UK)


QVQ (Raimond Heukers, NL)
InterAx Biotech (Maria Waldhoer, CH)

Other partner organizations are: Cisbio (Eric Trinquet, FR), Sosei Heptares (Chris de Graaf, UK), ALMAC (Alastair Hay, UK), Promega (Rachel Ohana, Keith Wood, US) and Learning By Simulation (LBS) (Leon Delbressine, NL).