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CNIO News, Year 2016

World experts present the results of major cancer genome programmes at the CNIO

Madrid, 11 November, 2016

The CNIO-"la Caixa" Foundation Frontiers Meeting on cancer heterogeneity will be held at the CNIO from 13 to 16 November

Researchers from the International Cancer Genome Consortium and the U.S. Cancer Genome Atlas, as well as the scientific director of the Cancer Core Europe programme, will participate in this conference

The meeting will focus on how to speed up the transfer of results to patients with projects such as virtual patient simulation

It is clear today that cancer refers to hundreds of diseases, which are as different from one another as the many and varied genetic alterations that cause them. Identifying and classifying the thousands of genetic defects associated with cancer is essential to learn how to treat each patient successfully, because the most effective drugs are those that attack specific alterations. A decade ago, researchers launched major programmes to analyse tumours in tens of thousands of patients. The results are surprising: tumours that were apparently similar to others, and that were, therefore, treated in a similar way, had different genetic causes, and vice versa. Has this knowledge resulted in better treatments? How much longer until we achieve precision medicine that seeks high levels of effectiveness without side effects?

These issues will be addressed at the CANCEROMATICS-III Congress from 13 to 16 November at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), in Madrid, organised with the support of the Obra Social "la Caixa".

A score of world-leading researchers in tumour heterogeneity will be attending the meeting. Computational Biology plays an essential role in this field: the use of sophisticated analysis programmes can allow us to extract information from the vast amount of data collected in recent years. Participants will have a chance to present what they have learned to date, explore ways to move forward, and, above all, discuss how to pass on the results to the patients as quickly as possible. 

The Conference belongs to the series of prestigious international CNIO Frontiers Meetings that will now be called CNIO -"la Caixa" Foundation Frontiers Meetings, thanks to the support of the Obra Social "la Caixa".

"Cancer is a heterogeneous disease at the cellular and molecular level, and this diversity is clearly useful for predicting the treatment outcome in each patient. This conference discusses recent advances in the analysis of the cancer genome, in order to improve our understanding of the causes and the consequences of this heterogeneity, and their implications for clinical treatment," says Fátima Al-Shahrour, Nuria Malats and Alfonso Valencia from the CNIO. CANCEROMATICS-III has been jointly organised with Chris Sander, researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston (USA). Sander is a world-leading figure in the development and implementation of the computer systems required to analyse cancer genomes and one of the leaders of the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a US consortium that studies variations in the genomes of over 30 different types of cancer. 

Francis Ouellette, Director of IT and Biocomputing at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (Toronto, Canada), will be attending the conference. He also plays an important role in the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). This international programme, with Spanish participation, has sequenced tumours from tens of thousands of patients, involving 50 different types of cancer, and is helping to identify the genetic alterations that probably trigger them from the hundreds that occur. Katherine Hoadley, from the University of North Carolina (USA), who is working on the US Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) programme, will also attend the event. 

Fabien Calvo, the scientific director of the Cancer Core Europe Programme, in which Spain also participates, will discuss the transfer of the knowledge derived from these major genetic analysis programmes to the clinical practice. Also in this line, Hans Lehrach, of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin (Germany), will submit his 'virtual patient’ project, based on creating a simulation for each patient that incorporates all the knowledge available in cancer gene databases; thus helping to establish the most appropriate treatments. 

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