Joining efforts against cancer


Cancer represents a major health, social and economic burden for our societies. This disease, which cause the death of close to 10 million people worldwide, is currently the first cause of death among men (298 deaths per 100,000 population) and the second among women (187 deaths per 100,000 population) in Spain. Although significant improvements in detection, treatment and overall survival have been achieved in the last decades, unfortunately these health problems will worsen in the years to come due to increasing poor social habits (obesity, smoking, drinking, UV exposure) and the general aging that most industrialized societies face nowadays. If no further action is taken, the European Commission forecasts that the number of people newly diagnosed with cancer every year in both Spain and Europe will double by 2040.

In order to avoid the worst-case scenario, it is of paramount importance to implement multifaceted research avenues aimed at understanding the biology and molecular taxonomy of each cancer type as well as at developing new diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Toward this goal, innovative types of cooperation by researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders (national health system agencies, research organizations, technical platforms, industry, and patient advocates) are needed. Only through this multidimensional approach we will succeed in making real impact on the life quality of the citizens.

In this regard, the CSIC is well positioned to address this heath system needs, given its great number of groups focused on basic cancer research, distributed in multiple centers across the country. Moreover, the multifaceted nature of this institution and of many of its centers fosters innovative and cross-cutting strategies, which may turn out to be very enriching when it comes to develop new therapies and diagnostic tools for this pathology. Although the CSIC is not generally perceived as a cancer research institution by most stakeholders, it should be underscored that cancer research does constitute a relevant and productive area in our institution. In particular, there is one institute, IBMCC-Centro de Investigación del Cáncer de Salamanca, whose main research focus is cancer both at the basic and clinical level. Furthermore, although not exclusively focused on this topic, relevant nodes are also present in other CSIC institutes, including CABIMER, CBM-SO, CIB-MS, IBBTEC, IBIS, IBMB, IIBB IIBM-AS, IN, and IPBLN (in alphabetical order), some with connections with hospitals of reference.

Given these current strengths and potential, Conexión Cáncer has been founded to foster synergistic interactions of dispersed cancer researchers within CSIC both among themselves and with external stakeholders. This CSIC network for scientific and technical cooperation will allow to establish avenues of information and knowledge both within and outside the CSIC biomedical area, to organize internal and external joint actions with other stakeholders involved in cancer research, and to promote the recruitment of talent. In this manner, it reinforces this strategic area within the CSIC, providing visibility to this institution as a key player in cancer research at both the academic and public level. Additionally, Conexión Cáncer-derived synergies will promote both the implementation of cutting-edge technological approaches and the optimal use of current core facilities, stimulating the interactions with the biopharmaceutical industry and enhancing the attraction of international resources. Through this initiative, the CSIC aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, as well as with the European Union, which has established cancer as one of the leading Missions of the next 2021-2027 HorizonEU research and innovation framework program.