NuCapCure Project Launches to Develop Tailored Multimodal Treatments for GBM Brain Cancer

On the 29th of February 2024, the newly launched research project NuCapCure officially kicked off its activities in Oslo, Norway. The project consortium, led by coordinator Dr Theodossis Theodossiou from the University of Oslo, comprises seven European institutions, including the UMCG.
NuCapCure Project

Each year, approximately 240,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with brain cancer. The most lethal type, Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), accounts for 14.6-16% of all primary brain and central nervous system tumours, tragically making it also the most common one.

Low survival rate

The current standard of care for GBM involves surgery followed by a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These interventions impose a significant physical and financial burden on patients and healthcare systems, while their curative impact is unfortunately limited. In fact, they only marginally extend patient survival by approximately 15 months, with a survival rate for GBM patients within five years of diagnosis at nearly 6%.

Redefining the landscape of GBM treatment

NuCapCure Project logo The new EU-funded NuCapCure project has been launched to address this challenge and undertake the ambitious mission of redefining the landscape of GBM treatment. The seven partners of the consortium aim to develop two radical, multimodal anticancer treatments highly specific to GBM. Over the next 54 months, NuCapCure will receive a total of €5.9 million in funding from the European Innovation Council's (EIC) Pathfinder programme, which targets visionary and disruptive innovations that can bring about decisive societal change by addressing global challenges.

Multimodal Anticancer Treatments

NuCapCure's approach involves the creation of customised boron-containing photosensitisers (PSs) using intracellular biochemistry. This innovative strategy aspires to create new radical and cancer-specific treatments, combining proton therapy, proton-induced PS activation, boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), and neutron-induced PS activation.
One of the core objectives of the NuCapCure project focuses on the design, development, validation, and optimisation of boron-modified PS prodrugs. These compounds will facilitate the intracellular production of boron-modified PSs by hijacking vital biosynthetic pathways. In other words, the cancer cells will become small individual chemical laboratories that generate the final drugs, leading to their destruction through neutron- or accelerated proton-based treatments. The specificity of the bespoke PSs to the cancer cells is crucial for sparing the normal tissue surrounding the lesions.


The activity at UMCG will encompass the development of irradiation modalities at the pre-clinical research centre PARTREC. These include the radiation dose calculation considering the effects of the boron proton capture, as well as the set-up of a pre-clinical beam line for 3D image-guided irradiation. Irradiation with ultra-high dose rate to achieve extra sparing of the healthy tissue via the so-called FLASH effect will be developed. The subsequent radiobiological study will include the irradiation of GBM tumour models according to jointly developed protocols. The work at UMCG is led by Prof. Alexander Gerbershagen (physics) and Dr. Lara Barazzuol (radiobiology).

More information can be found on

Project Partners:

  • Universitetet i Oslo and Oslo Universitets Sykehus, Norway
  • GalChimia, Spain
  • Univerzita Karlova, Czechia
  • Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o., Czechia
  • EURICE – European Research and Project Office GmbH, Germany
  • National Center for Scientific Research “DEMOKRITOS”
  • Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen, The Netherlands


Funded by the EU logo