LivingOncohealth Institute: innovation to defeat cancer

Oncohealth Institute: innovation to defeat cancer

From the consultation to the laboratory and from the laboratory to the bedside. This is how the daily work at the Oncohealth Institute of the Fundación Jiménez Díaz University Hospital (Madrid) could be summarized. According to its director, the oncologist Jesús García-Foncillas, the center represents a new concept in the approach to cancer , aimed not only at its comprehensive treatment, but also at early diagnosis and prevention . It has an experienced and multidisciplinary team of more than a hundred professionals and with the latest technology . In addition, it has an applied research division and collaborates with the best cancer centers in the world. The aim is to apply cutting-edge treatments and therapeutic strategies, such as immuno-oncology – which uses the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells – always from an individualized perspective. “We look for treatments according to the molecular profiles of the patients, because no two are alike,” emphasizes García-Foncillas.

The advent of new targeted biological therapies has improved treatments and the identification of patients who can benefit from them. When a person goes to Oncohealth in search of a cure, the first thing that is done is a molecular study of their tumor , through the massive sequencing of its DNA. The director of the institute explains that “many of the new treatments target specific molecular alterations of the tumor cell itself; in this way a much more targeted and personalized therapy is made for each cancer. On the other hand, this comprehensive center invests a great effort in the development of new molecular biomarkers related to the evolution of tumors. “Identifying new targets for drug development is part of our daily work. In this type of research we are one of the most cutting-edge centers in the world, ”says García-Foncillas.

One of the pillars of the institute is the integrated clinical trials unit , which is structured in a phase 1 unit and a phase 2 and 3 clinical trial unit. There are also laboratories that work with animal models, and a translational research division. What does the latter consist of? To apply advances in basic research to new treatments or medical procedures adapted to each patient as soon as possible . This process requires a continuous flow of information between all the professionals involved, and one sentence sums it up well: “From the laboratory to the sickbed”. Oncohealth has an ideal basis for this type of research: a tumor bank with more than 44,000 samples. The phase 1 unit has treated more than three hundred patients since its opening at the end of 2013. It is the first of its kind opened in the public health system, and is a reference in the Community of Madrid. According to García-Foncillas, its success lies in the fact that it offers novel treatments with drugs that will not be marketed for five or ten years.

But Oncohealth is not just investigating. The human factor is not neglected. As its director explains, “we have a palliative care unit so that the patient feels fully supported in the last stage of his illness, when we no longer have any other treatment options.” Added to this is a psycho-oncology team that accompanies all those affected in each of the phases of their ailment.

 

By Marta Riesgo

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