Almost 200 international specialists in pathology, molecular biology, medical oncology and surgery are meeting in Madrid at the first congress of its kind held in Europe, whose aim is to debate the latest advances produced in molecular diagnosis technology and new directed therapies. The president of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, Dr Gregory Fuller, and the vice president of Global Academic Programs at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Dr Oliver Bogle, among others, will take part in the congress.
Recently, the main advances in anatomic pathology have led to the use of molecular pathology techniques to achieve greater accuracy in cancer diagnosis, to the degree of being able to detail, in many cases, the predicted response of a patient to available therapies and to learn more about new risk and prognosis markers.
“Undoubtedly, the achievement of personalized therapy depends entirely on the development of molecular diagnostics because, if a biomarker cannot be identified, the patient cannot be assigned a treatment”, explains Dr Juan F. Garcia, head of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid Anatomic Pathology Department and one of the program directors, alongside Drs Bogdan Czerniak, Victor Prieto and Patricia Troncoso of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston.
Regarding the discovery of new markers or therapeutic targets, relevant examples are the EDFR, HER2, VEFGR, BRAS, KRAS, P13CA in many neoplasias, in addition to other specific genetic alterations in genes in each tumor and in each individual “and which, therefore, allow for more personalized treatments in each case”, states Dr Garcia.
The congress, which kicks off today, will also look at all the advances in pathology achieved in recent times in breast, gynecologic, gastrointestinal, central nervous system and lung cancers and sarcomas and melanomas. “For that reason, we have chosen the top experts in each of the specialties from MD Anderson and other leading centers, to present an in-depth program on molecular diagnosis of cancer”, says the specialist.
Furthermore, the meeting includes a seminary on cases at which the attendees will also take part in practical sessions about molecular techniques, allowing for discussions and debates, too. During the conferences, the specialists will also be able to look at lines of investigation in pathology which will likely be at the center of this field in the coming years. From these lines of investigation, Dr Garcia highlights the incorporation of new infrastructures, the setting up of shared clinical databases storing genomic data and data on multiple biomarker testing as the most promising.
State-of-the-art massive sequencing
DNA sequencing techniques for the investigation and diagnosis of cancer cases have made it possible to learn more about the human genome and to identify alterations in DNA (like mutations, rearrangements, amplifications, etc.), used in the diagnosis of different types of cancer and as therapy targets.
However, “in recent years, these techniques have evolved to allow massive analysis, resulting in state-of-the-art massive sequencing, incorporating new chemical procedures and nanoconductive technology”, states the MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid specialist.
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