Public perception reports for science show a growing interest in society towards patronage and new forms of citizen participation in research and science, particularly in the areas of medicine and health. Specifically, in the field of oncology, dedication and hard work in research and development is what allows us to say that, nowadays, nearly half of all cancers are curable. But there is still a long way to go: cancer is still the second most frequent cause of death in Spain, approximately 100,000 people die every year from this disease.
Under the slogan More research, less cancer, the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) has launched a new philanthropic group—CNIO Friends—to involve individuals, companies, associations and foundations who are aware of the need to support cancer research. (http://www.cnio.es/ing/colaborar/comocolaborar.asp). The platform responds to the search for economic support but also aspires to share with a broader public, the knowledge generated by a centre of excellence such as CNIO, which might be essential for the future of medicine.
As the Centre’s Director Maria Blasco explains: “At CNIO we do exceptionally high quality research so that more and more people will survive cancer in the future,” adding that: “The generosity of those who support us is crucial and the new CNIO Friends platform is a way of approaching society to thank people for their effort and explain more and better what it is that we do.”
BETTER ACCESS TO EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS FOR SPANISH PATIENTS
Amongst the CNIO´s most recent milestones is the signing of an agreement with the multinational company Merck Serono for the development of the first experimental drugs to be developed at the Centre. A year after the signing of the agreement, in an unprecedented step in Spain, the company has begun regulatory toxicology studies for these molecules. This is the stage immediately prior to beginning clinical trials on humans.
Also noteworthy, are the creation of a Pediatric Clinical Trials Unit alongside the Niño Jesús Hospital in Madrid, and the nearly 1,000 genetic studies performed on family members at high risk of cancer in order to make an accurate risk assessment and offer genetic counselling.
Furthermore, thanks to the Clinical Research Programme led by oncologist Manuel Hidalgo, CNIO has managed to create a consortium of Associated Clinical Units in public and private hospitals to conduct clinical trials in oncology. Via the programme, hundreds of patients can already access experimental therapies in Spain without having to travel to the United States or other reference countries.
BLOCKING METASTASIS, CNIO’S NEW TARGET
Another area of interest for the CNIO is metastasis—the dissemination of tumour cells around the body—which is responsible for approximately 90% of all cancer-related deaths. Currently, there are no effective treatment modalities for patients with metastatic cancer. This lack of knowledge about metastasis has motivated the CNIO to bring specialised, new talent, in this area of oncology. The CNIO will begin to recruit new talent at the start of 2015, opening up new avenues in Spain for the development of specifically targeted therapies against metastasis.
“One of CNIO’s commitments is to contribute to the development of new drugs to treat cancer and make new knowledge available to patients as soon as possible. With everyone’s efforts, we trust 2015 will be a year for meeting big challenges,” says Blasco.
About the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)
The CNIO is one of the world’s leading cancer research centres. In the field of oncology, as reported by a recent publication by the SCimago Institutions Ranking (SIRWorld2014, SCimago), the CNIO ranked as the 4th best cancer research institute, according to the high impact of the articles published by its researchers.
Almost 400 researchers at the forefront of global science, strive to better understand the underlying mechanisms of cancer and to find ways to combat it. The ultimate goal of the CNIO is to advance knowledge and foster translation of scientific breakthroughs into novel and more effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
As a comprehensive Cancer Centre, the CNIO integrates both basic and translational research. We also have an active innovation programme that guarantees the transfer of knowledge from our scientific discoveries to the market and bedside and to society as soon as possible.