The Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), via its Clinical Research Programme, together with the Niño Jesús University Hospital, in Madrid, have created a new Paediatric Clinical Trials Research Unit. The aim of this Unit is to promote in the clinical setting, the development and introduction of new treatments against cancers that affect babies, children and teenagers.
The Unit was introduced today in the course of the 1st Hospital Session on Translational Medicine and Clinical Trials, a meeting organised in collaboration with the Spanish Paediatric Association (AEP) and with the participation of Pilar Ortega Martínez, President of the Spanish Federation of Children with Cancer.
According to Dr. Luís Madero, Head of the Onco-Haematology Service at the Niño Jesús Hospital: “towards the end of the 20th Century, child mortality due to cancer gradually slowed, and both the survival rate and quality of life of patients improved a lot; since the year 2000, however, those medical advances have come to a halt and new working, research and treatment methods for patients are required to restart them. We need a new strategy that allows us to overcome the problems we have been facing for quite a while”.
Although in general, and thanks to different treatment modalities, 75% of patients with childhood cancers find a cure, there are still many patients who do not overcome the illness. The current survival rate for advanced‐stage neuroblastomas or sarcomas and some types of brain tumours or leukaemias are lower than 40%.
According to Dr. Lucas Moreno, a CNIO oncologist and coordinator of the Unit: “once the standard lines of treatment have run out, we want to facilitate patient access to clinical trials from the hospital, without the need for them to leave Spain”.
CLINICAL TRIALS TO COMBAT CHILDHOOD CANCER
Paediatric Onco-Haematology research will follow the adult line as far as the application of personalised medicine is concerned, with less toxicity, greater precision and treatment modalities that take into account the biology of the tumour, the functional state of the immune system and other new determining factors associated with the appearance and response of cancer cells.
The Unit -which has been operational since the beginning of the year and was established thanks to an agreement between CNIO and the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Niño Jesús Hospital- currently runs 13 clinical trials (centred on different solid tumours such as neuroblastomas, medulloblastomas, and bone or soft-tissue sarcomas).
The Paediatric Clinical Trials Research Unit is the first Associate Clinical Research Unit that CNIO has exclusively set up to investigate paediatric cancer, and will be coordinated by CNIO personnel working at the Niño Jesús Hospital.