INTeRCePT: Intercept clonal evolution to overcome treatment resistance in childhood and adult blood cancer

Thorsten Zenz (USZ/UZH), Burkhard Becher (UZH), Nico Beerenwinkel (ETHZ), Jean-Pierre Bourquin (KISPI/UZH), Wolfgang Huber (EMBL), Stefanie Kreutmair (USZ/UZH), Andreas Moor (ETHZ), Berend Snijder (ETHZ)

Summary: Patients with lymphoma or acute lymphoblastic leukemia who do not respond to treatment have a bleak outcome. Over 1100 patients die with leukemia and lymphoma in Switzerland annually, despite a diverse treatment landscape. There is a major need to optimize treatment selection for patients with blood cancer.

To improve the outcome of lymphoid malignancies in children and adults, we will channel relapsing blood cancer patients in Zurich into a new Innovation Clinic. Treatments are applied, often multiple times consecutively, and each time tumors and normal blood cells are collected before treatment. In laboratory experiments, we determine the precise molecular state as well as the dynamic response of these collected tumor samples, at multiple levels of their molecular biology and at single-cell resolution. This will also enable us to understand the heterogeneity of tumor and normal immune cells and their interactions. The drugs will include all drugs potentially available for treatment, including those used in the patient. By computational analysis, we construct a detailed single-cell map of drug response and use this to derive a broadly applicable procedure aimed at extinction of the tumor (INTeRCePT), which we test in a trial, aiming to increase response rate by 50%.

Video presentation of “INTeRCePT” on the occasion of the Kick-off Event from April 20, 2021 (german language)


Personalised Treatment of Blood Cancer

↑ Interview with Prof. Zenz (in German)

Project Overview



Prof. Dr. med. Thorsten Zenz, Medical Oncology and Hematology Clinic, University Hospital Zurich


Duration: 2021 – 2026


Universities: ETH Zurich, University of Zurich


Hospitals: University Hospital Zurich, University Children’s Hospital Zurich


Researchers: approx. 25


Partners: EMBL Heidelberg


Patients: 100 (more than 5’000 samples)