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Madrid, February 22, 2022 - A total of 2,000 patients with metastatic tumors will have the chance to take part, free of charge, in the DIPCAN (Digitization and Management of Personalized Medicine in Cancer) study, which came about with the intention of changing clinical practice in the area of Oncology, pursuing the development of personalized medicine thanks to the integration of clinical, genomic and radiological image data.

Study participants will have access to a consultation with an oncologist specializing in clinical research who will collect the patient's clinical data in a systematic manner. In addition, sequencing of the tumor genome will be carried out for both the biopsy sample and the blood, the anatomic pathology images of each of the tumors will be digitized and a total body MRI done, which will include radiological images from the head to the feet of the patient. All parameters will be anonymized and encrypted for storage and will be analyzed by an artificial intelligence algorithm.

The scientific director of the project is Dr. Enrique Grande, head of the Medical Oncology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, and head of Clinical Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center Foundation Spain. "We want a 360o-change in clinical practice in Oncology, focusing on personalized medicine to identify the patients more likely to respond better to treatments”.

Dr. Grande explains the benefits obtained by participants: “Each of them will receive a free report with the associated magnetic resonance images, another with the digitized images of their tumor, the molecular characterization of their tumor with the clinical interpretation of the alterations found and, finally, a clinical report with the explanation in understandable language and the treatment direction that may be carried out with these findings”.

European financing and commitment to digital transformation

The Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence (SEDIA), the highest body within Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, is collaborating in the project, which is endowed with 7.5 million Euros in funding from the European Union, under the Next Generation program.

For Dr. Grande "digital transformation must be embraced in the field of health and what better field than oncology to lead the transition". On the one hand, he points out, "we must abandon the free-text collection of patient, I think the time has come to systematize the collection of this data and do it in an intuitive, agile way, that does not depend so much on the subjectivity of the doctor collecting the data, and which, above all, allows us to analyze and interpret the data in the future”. Big data has arrived to help both clinicians and health managers and the DIPCAN study is going to open many doors for us and show us how to do it”.

Project development

The DIPCAN Project is scheduled to start in March and the patients will be treated at the Phase I Clinical Trials Unit at MD Anderson Cancer Center Foundation Spain. DIPCAN will collect clinical data and generate medical, radiomic, pathological and genetic data for each of them.

First of all, they will have a blood test and their clinical records will be updated and systematized at all times. They will then have a total body MRI, from the brain to their lower limbs, that is, from a radiomic point of view, accurate information will be obtained on what the patient's tumor is like. They will also undergo digital pathology techniques using the latest robotic technology available, which will help pinpoint the most reliable part of the tissue for tumor analysis and the obtention of information. It should be noted that this type of digital pathology is not currently done in healthcare practice.

And, finally, thanks to the tissue analyzed, sequencing will be carried out using NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) techniques of the molecular alterations that may be present in the tumor.

The project will run for two years and throughout this time the patient will be monitored and their evolution observed. With all these data, an AI algorithm will be designed to allow an approximation to the concept of personalized medicine, thus achieving the simulation and specific clinical improvement of the subject under study.

The patient will also receive a final recommendation from the oncologist that will help them better understand the disease and facilitate their access to state-of-the-art therapies and clinical trials.

To sum up, the detailed study of the data from the DIPCAN Project seeks multidimensional knowledge of cancer in the Spanish population. This knowledge will allow the development of health strategies to prevent, initially diagnose and treat the most prevalent tumors among the Spanish population in a more cost-effective manner.

“If we achieve the objective of the study, for example, from a single biopsy or an MRI, we will know what may happen to the patient in the future. That is why we think we are going to be able to change clinical practice in the area of oncology”, explains Dr. Grande.

Collaborating companies

The DIPCAN Project would not be possible without the collaboration of the following companies:

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center Foundation Spain, a reference in oncology research, together with MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, a leading hospital of excellence for cancer treatment in Spain and Europe. The patient will be treated in the Phase I Clinical Trials Unit at MD Anderson Foundation Spain, where they will receive the necessary personalized medical care and service. Both the Foundation and the hospital are in close, ongoing collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
  • Eurofins Megalab, leader in clinical analysis and a pioneer in clinical genetics and molecular pathology, will carry out the clinical analysis and genomic and pathological studies.
  • Genomcore, leader in digital solutions for the implementation of personalized medicine, will contribute its expertise in biomedical data governance and bioinformatics analysis.
  • Artelnics, a company specialized in the development and application of artificial intelligence techniques, will be responsible for generating automatic learning models from the data collected.
  • Pangaea Oncology, a benchmark in oncology molecular diagnosis, specialized in liquid biopsy and Next Generation Sequencing, will perform the analysis and interpretation of liquid biopsy samples from patients and the genetic expression of the tumor.
  • Atrys Health, a global company providing precision medical diagnosis and treatment services, and a pioneer in state-of-the-art telemedicine and radiotherapy, will carry out Big Data analytical and clinical validation of the AI platform and quality control of the genomic data.
  • Quibim is the leading company in the development of virtual biopsies with medical images, applied both in diagnostic processes in radiology and in the discovery of new therapeutic molecules in conjunction with the main pharmaceutical companies. The company has products approved as medical devices EC and FDA approved and manages databases of more than 10 million medical images, focusing its developments in the field of oncology-immunotherapy, rheumatology and neurology. The company also participates in the largest international research consortiums and in cancer imaging biobanks.