Adaptive Clinical Trials - A new concept to improve and accelerate the clinical testing of cancer drugs in Finland

A joint development project by University of Helsinki and University of Turku has been awarded with over 2 million Euros in the Challenge Finland competition. The project is called TEHO adaptive clinical trial design – poised to accelerate approval.

The goal of this 2-year project is to advance the Finnish drug discovery research and its innovations by developing a new concept of adaptive clinical trials. Finland is home to numerous innovations in oncology and cancer therapeutics. However, only a few of these innovations currently reach clinical practice where they would benefit cancer patients. The TEHO project aims to develop a new, faster and more efficient, adaptive approach to clinical trials which constitute one major bottleneck in transforming Finnish innovations in cancer research into new, effective therapeutics.

The TEHO project will approach this challenge by developing and validating new multifaceted approach to clinical testing. Our aim is to utilize latest data from preclinical cancer models, predictive biomarkers and computational simulations parallel to an active clinical trial. This new adaptive concept will make it possible to evaluate the clinical significance of the proposed markers of clinical efficacy before and during the actual clinical testing. Therefore, this new paradigm will dramatically decrease the time and cost of clinical testing and accelerate clinical adoption of new cancer therapeutics since it will be possible to make evidence-based real-time adjustments to patient cohorts and drug doses throughout the trial.

TEHO project comprehensively combines various aspects of Finnish preclinical and clinical research. Upon completion, the TEHO project will provide new opportunities for commercial utilization of Finnish translational oncology research and benefit both the Finnish drug discovery ecosystem and cancer patients worldwide.

TEHO is a collaborative partnership between academia and industry, whose members include University of Helsinki, University of Turku, Comprehensive Cancer Center, AbbVie Oy, Aurexel Life Sciences Ltd, Bayer Oy, Biomedicum Genomics Oy, Orion Oyj, PacoMed Oy and StatFinn Oy. Responsible project directors are the cancer scientists Juha Klefström from the University of Helsinki and Jukka Westermarck from the University of Turku.

Challenge Finland competition

Challenge Finland competition by Tekes is an embodiment of the goals set by the current government to foster national expertise and education. The goal of Challenge Finland program is to uncover commercially viable solutions to significant needs by combining Finnish knowledge and innovations with research and development of Finland-based companies. In the spring of 2016 Tekes selected 70 most promising project proposals from nearly 300 applications. These finalists were then given the opportunity to further develop their original concept and identify industrial partners for eventual commercialization. The best projects were subsequently awarded funding for the years 2017 and 2018.

Additional information:

Research Director Juha Klefström (, tel. +358 44-377 3876)

Professor Jukka Westermarck (, tel. +358 40-742 3007).