Lucas Moreno, head of the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Service at the Vall d’Hebrón University Hospital.
An exciting path towards allowing access for all pediatric cancer patients to precision medicine in Spain begins this Thursday, September 22 with the implementation of the Sehop-Pencil Project. The initiative, developed by the Spanish Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (Sehop) and coordinated by the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Service of the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and the Childhood Cancer and Hematological Diseases group of the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (Vhir), will have the participation of 12 hospitals. During a period of four yearswill be evaluated sequencing program of childhood tumors at the state level to implement personalized medicine in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric patients.
Until now, gene sequencing in Spain is limited to a few centers that carry it out for research projects. Lucas Morenohead of the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Service of the Vall d’Hebron University Hospitalstates in Medical Writing that “Pencil defends the philosophy of making the precision medicinelargely linked to Oncology in Adultsbe accessible to all pediatric patients in Spain in their day to day. Thus, gene sequencing will make it possible to analyze tumors to see if there are treatments that the patient may benefit from”.
The project will involve more than 500 patients with pediatric tumors treated in any Spanish hospital, and to achieve better coordination a network has been established between ten genomic centers to minimize patient travel. “These centers will receive samples from all the hospitals that treat children with cancer in Spain. For some patients will develop sequencing panels to analyze a specific group of genes, for others it will be to analyze all genes suffering from more resistant tumors that have reappeared. For the brain tumors A technique known as methylation, another way of looking at the genome to find out what kind of tumors they are. The liquid biopsy will also be used, and for other patients it will be tested for syndromes genetic predisposition to cancer.”
“Pencil upholds the philosophy of making precision medicine accessible to all pediatric patients”
The liquid biopsy takes on a special role in the project, being within the research block the most outstanding aspect within all the initiatives that are carried out. “This is a technique that is not yet used in the daily life of patients, although it offers many advantages because it is not necessary to access the tumor and operate. This allows that with a simple blood sample it is possible to know if the tumor responds well or if it can return. It is a way of monitoring how patients are responding with a blood sample”, says Moreno.
Organization between health systems, Ministry and associations
In order to maintain a good organizationMoreno is committed to working together with all the actors involved in pediatric cancer: “Through many meetings we will connect with the health systems of the different autonomous communities, the Ministry of Health and the patient associations. All this will contribute to the studies having the same quality and the patients receiving the reports in the same way. In four years we will know which precision medicine techniques are best so that they are available throughout the state and stay forever in hospitals treating pediatric patients. Offering access to targeted and personalized treatments is vital.”
“In four years we will know which precision medicine techniques are the best so that they are available throughout the state”
The rest of the hospitals and institutions that participate in the project are the La Paz University Hospital Research Institutethe La Fe Health Research Institute – La Fe University and Polytechnic Hospitalthe Institute of Biomedicine of Seville – Virgen del Rocío University Hospitalthe Rare Diseases Research Institute-Carlos III Health Institutethe Research Foundation Chris against Cancerthe Research Foundation of the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospitalthe Hospital Sant Joan de Déuthe Navarra University Clinicthe Health Research Institute Biscay Biocruces and the Castilla la Mancha Health Service.
Convert Spanish Pediatric Oncology into a European benchmark
This far-reaching strategy also aims to boost Spain within European Pediatric Oncology. In the words of Moreno, “the philosophy of this project is that all centers can treat pediatric cancer, which will allow us to catch up with the leading European countries. France, England Y Germany they already recently include sequencing programs for pediatric patients. In Spain it is not yet available, and now we want to get on that European train to incorporate it into the day-to-day life of all patients”.
“Spain wants to get on the European train to treat pediatric cancer”
The Pencil project not only seeks to consolidate precision medicine in Spain, but also seeks claim attention who receives the child cancer at European level. “It’s hard to get interest from the pharmaceutical industry to develop projects related to this disease. Pencil has a large size and wingspan and will allow children to have the same drug options than adults. Another path that we will explore with the project is that, once the genes have been found, there must be available drugs. Since they are developed for adults, they must also be developed for the pediatric population. It is necessary to improve access to drugs by this group”, summarizes the head of the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Service.
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