Team members gathered in person for the first time since the project kicked off, to discuss progress made and actions ahead


HARMONIC team members gathered in Essen, Germany, on November 15-16, for the consortium’s fourth annual meeting – the first in-person meeting since the project kicked off in June 2019 – to discuss progress made and actions for the next two years of the project’s lifetime.

“Despite a series of obstacles, the project has made great progress,” says Isabelle Thierry-Chef, ISGlobal researcher and project coordinator. “We have two very promising years ahead of us: one to finish collecting patient data, and one to analyse them.” The consortium also discussed options to ensure the project’s sustainability, including funding opportunities to continue collaborating beyond the next two years.

This is a brief summary of the main achievements:

Work Package (WP) 2, dedicated to paediatric patients undergoing modern radiotherapy, has reached important milestones: all operating procedures and protocols are finalised, and the database is validated and running. Patient inclusion is ongoing – over 1,200 patients already recruited, with a total of 2500 expected by the end of the project. The team is now working on assigning the patient data to the different tasks, uploading the image data, and linking them to external registries for long-term follow-up. Team members underscored the importance of strengthening interactions with other European platforms and preparing the legal framework to maintain the patient registry beyond the current EC funding period.

WP3 has already included 60,000 European paediatric patients who underwent cardiac fluoroscopy interventions between 1975 and 2022. Data collection including dosimetric data, data on predisposing syndromes to cancer, transplants and associated immunosuppressive treatments, will be pursued until the end of 2023 while the detailed analysis plan will be refined.

WP4, dedicated to dosimetry, has already validated the analytical tools needed to estimate organ doses (including out-of-field) in children treated with photon and proton therapy. A publication that demonstrates how these tools can be combined to estimate the complete patient exposure and the resulting risks, is in preparation. The WP has also developed a dose reconstruction software for cardiac fluoroscopy interventions and is setting-up the overall strategy for large-scale individual dose reconstruction

Finally, WP5, which focuses on the biological effects of ionising radiation, presented preliminary results (protein assay, mitochondrial DNA copy number, telomere length and plasma profiling) obtained with the first samples from the cardiac patients, received from Italy. The team hopes to analyse blood and saliva samples from 50 cardiology patients, 50 patients treated with proton radiotherapy, and 50 patients treated with photon radiotherapy.

“The consortium is very grateful to the members of the advisory committee, who participated in a follow-up meeting where a summary of achievements was presented,” notes Thierry-Chef.