Madrid (Spain), December 2, 2013.Four years ago, the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) embarked on a new quest with the creation of its Clinical Research Programme. This Programme was financed in part with a 12 million euro credit loan from the Ministry of Health, which was distributed between 2009 and 2011. The goal of the Programme is to speed up the processes that translate scientific knowledge into patient benefits. Success depends on the CNIO researchers being able to access patients, through clinical trials.
The first step in the launching of the Programme was taken in 2009 with the signing of a partnership alliance with the Hospital Universitario de Fuenlabrada (HUF); this hospital depends on the Community of Madrid. The start of our clinical activity at HUF, however, has been delayed due to various administrative formalities that we have attempted to solve alongside HUF and the Madrid´s regional health authority (SERMAS). Amongst these formalities is, for example, the accreditation of CNIO doctors in order to be able to see patients in the HUF, a step that was finally completed last year. This has hampered the setup of the Clinical Trials Programme at HUF, with the disappointment of its patients, citizens and, of course, CNIO´s researchers.
Despite these setbacks, in 2012 19 patients were treated in clinical trials carried out at the HUF, and in 2013 more than 50. We intend to treat more than 60 patients in 2014. For the dozens of patients treated over these years, and for their relatives, their participation has already been a success.
Moreover, in 2012 and 2013, similar agreements were signed with other public hospitals throughout the Community of Madrid (La Paz, Ramon and Cajal, Niño Jesús, Jiménez Díaz). The latest project, led in the Hospital Niño
Jesús by Lucas Moreno, whom we recruited in London for this very mission, has launched 13 trials with novel drugs and has treated more than 10 patients in a few months. This is a pioneering activity in our country; for the first time in Spain, novel drugs are available in clinical trials to treat children with cancer.
Alongside these efforts, since 2009, the CNIO has collaborated independently with the Hospital de Madrid (HM), which has never been financed with funds obtained from CNIO as it is 100 percent financed through private funding. This collaborative effort makes it easier for CNIO researchers to access a larger number of patients, given there are fewer administrative burdens.
Our goal is to begin clinical trials at the largest number of hospitals possible, in order to offer innovative clinical trials to more patients, at the same time as helping to develop new anti-cancer drugs. At present, over 150 clinical trial articles we have published in scientific publications endorse our efforts, something that has allowed us, amongst other advances, to more easily provide cancer patients with new treatments such as Tarceva, Torisel or, more recently, Abraxane.
Manuel Hidalgo, Director of the CNIO Clinical Research Programme