Vall d’Hebron Instituto de Oncología (VHIO)
Josep Tabernero, Director of the VHIO
Elena Garralda, Director of the Research Unit for Molecular Therapy of Cancer - CaixaResearch (UITM-CaixaResearch) at the VHIO
HOST ORGANIZATION, COUNTRY
Vall d’Hebron Institut d’Oncologia (VHIO), Spain
Since 2008, the ”la Caixa” Foundation has collaborated with the Vall d’Hebron Institut d’Oncologia (VHIO), providing continued structural support to its activities in research, innovation and clinical trials of new anticancer drugs.
The VHIO is a biomedical research centre made up of scientists and physicians who work together to link basic science with clinical research. The main purpose of the Institute is to promote and develop excellence in the investigation of oncological diseases, and to work to increase contributions to the development of new and improved therapies for the treatment of cancer.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, with around 18 million new cases diagnosed and more than 9.6 million cancer-related deaths every year. While cancer survival rates continue to improve, there are still many tumour types with no effective treatments. Clinical trials are key to identifying and developing novel therapies against cancers and are only possible at VHIO thanks to the continued support from the ”la Caixa” Foundation for operation of the Research Unit for Molecular Therapy of Cancer - CaixaResearch (UITM-CaixaResearch).
The VHIO’s UITM-CaixaResearch unit was created in 2010 and is now an international reference in the development of new cancer treatments and improvement of existing therapies, as well as in the optimal molecular selection of patients likely to respond to these therapies, through the development of advanced molecular diagnostic panels. The UITM-CaixaResearch enables patients who have tried all other lines of therapy without success to access treatments that could actually change the course of their disease. Most of these patients are referred to this unit from their referral hospitals in Catalonia, Spain or abroad, because standard treatments have proved ineffective and they have run out of options; the only alternative available to them is to participate in a clinical trial adapted to the type of tumour they have. Many of the patients who take part in such a trial at the UITM are the first to try a new type of therapy that may subsequently be administered to other patients with a type of disease similar to theirs.
VHIO’s UITM-CaixaResearch unit conducts and coordinates highly complex clinical trials with drugs in early development (Phase I and early Phase II trials), focused on innovative targets. From its creation up to 2020, as a direct result of the clinical studies conducted at the UITM-CaixaResearch the FDA approved 35 new drugs for the treatment of certain tumour types, which are becoming increasingly more targeted thanks to personalised medicine. These drugs are either newly created or previously approved medications for which proven efficacy has been established against another type of tumour.
In the decade from 2010 to 2020, more than 7,800 patients were enrolled in clinical trials at the UITM-CaixaResearch. Personalised medicine, targeted therapies, molecular patient screening and immune-based therapies are key to ongoing progress. Total drug development and approval times have been reduced from around 8 to 10 years to 2 to 5 years on average. This has direct benefits for the patient, who may have access to new treatments that would otherwise not be available.
The CaixaResearch Advanced Oncology Research Programme (2020-2023) will provide a further boost to the development of more potent and precise anti-cancer medicines. It will enable the consolidation of existing research lines and the initiation of new projects to lead cutting-edge research in some of the most relevant and emerging focus fields in precision oncology. These are areas that show particular promise for resolving the multiple issues that stand in the way of a more effective fight against cancer. The Programme will make it possible to apply new approaches and a new arsenal against cancer, which includes liquid biopsies, RNA expression analysis, immune-based therapies, bispecific antibodies, oncolytic virus, and intratumoural therapy.
TYPE OF SUPPORT
Access all the information through the VHIO website.