Cancer is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity whose risk generally increases with age. Cancer-related death is rising due to greater life expectancy and to the spreading of western lifestyle changes. Due to its inherent complexity, cancer initiation and progression persist as major scientific challenges. Understanding the basic mechanisms underlying disease supports the best medical practice and the core of translational research, and is a sine qua non condition for an accurate medical practice, particularly in oncology. Thematic Line 3 aims at excellence in medical oncology practice built on assistance care combined with pioneering research. TL3 brings together fundamental scientists, oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, and biomedical technologists centred on specific oncologic diseases:
- to develop novel therapeutic approaches and biomarkers for a better stratification of cancer patients and providing a correct clinical management;
- to achieve a better understanding of initiation and progression of oncologic diseases in order to improve prevention, early diagnoses and treatment.
Clinical activities within TL3 are mainly based at IPOLFG hosting two key research groups: RG16 ("Familial and Individual Cancer Risk") and RG17 ("From Tumour Biology to Cancer Therapies"), in collaboration with RG15 ("Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer") based at the Hepato-Bilio-Pancreatic and Transplantation Centre (CHBPT) of the Central Lisbon Hospital Group (CHLC), and RG14 ("Cell Metabolism and Cancer") in collaboration with CUF Oncology Institute. Based on the expertise of medical doctors from well-grounded hospitals involved in the management of large numbers of patients, reinforced by the in vivo, in vitro and ex vivo models developed at CEDOC, IPOLFG and iBET, the biotechnological tools, expertise, and facilities implemented at iBET and ITQB (RGs 1-5), and the access to the biologic material from the archives of the IPOLFG and NMS-associated hospitals, a new range of opportunities arise for oncology research. iN4H partners under TL3 are investigating biological mechanisms such as tumor invasion, metastatic potential and tumor angiogenesis, and developing new approaches for cancer prevention/early detection, novel therapeutics, and avoidance of chemo-resistance.
Since its inception, preliminary results within iN4H were obtained for ten ongoing collaborative projects in colorectal, head & neck, ovarian, thyroid and breast cancer as well as in precursor neoplastic lesions; another five projects are now starting, two of them in new areas of research within the consortium: melanocytic lesions and lymphoma. TL3 will continue developing these research lines centered on the most frequent tumors, sporadic and familiar (e.g. colorectal, thyroid, ovarian, breast, esophageal, and head & neck), as well as on pathologies of growing incidence (e.g. melanoma, clinical problems related to the better control of the disease like the management of metastasis), while helping to answer clinical questions from daily practice thus improving translational research, the main goal of iN4H.