NEP works with studies related to Precision Oncology

Precision Oncology, also known as personalized oncology, aims to combine clinicopathological data established for the patient with the molecular profile of tumors to create more accurate diagnostic, prognostic and treatment strategies tailored to the needs of each patient.

Dr. Letícia Braga, Coordinator of the Translational Research Laboratory at NEP, Precision Oncology treated the disease in a personalized way. “We, researchers at the Translational Research Laboratory, are working on projects funded by the National Oncology Program (PRONON) that seek to identify biomarkers that can be used in genetic testing, such as predictive markers for personalized treatment and markers that predispose to a particular type of cancer in families, helping physicians make more effective clinical decisions”.

Also according to Dr. Letícia, last year alone, 164 women with cervical cancer, 102 with ovarian cancer and 99 with breast cancer participated in the studies and contributed to achieving the goals of the NEP projects.

But while the results of this research are not available in clinical practice, what does Precision Oncology have to do with my cancer treatment?

“Precision Oncology represents the 4 P’s of medicine: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory. Through this knowledge, physicians are able to guide interventions in the patient’s own daily life, change in lifestyle, exercise and eating habits, which directly depends on the specific attitudes of each one.”

Check out other NEP publications on our website. Click here .

* Text written by Letícia Braga, Biologist, Post-doctorate in Experimental Oncology, Coordinator of the Translational Research Laboratory of the Teaching and Research Nucleus (NEP)

Funed partners with Mario Penna to develop cancer research

The Ezequiel Dias Foundation (Funed), through its Molecular Biology Service (SBM), has just signed a partnership with the Mário Penna Institute, through the Teaching and Research Nucleus (NEP). The institution is philanthropic, a reference in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, teaching and research in Minas Gerais.

The objective of the cooperation is to establish a partnership for research, development and innovation, through the Oncology Biomarkers Research Network. According to Luciana Maria Silva, Funed researcher responsible for the work, the partnership is strategic to provide advances in the understanding of the carcinogenesis of human tumors. “Oncology research can be of the basic or translational type, but together they can promote the health of patients diagnosed with the disease, with the objective of advancing important discoveries that go from the bench to the bedside “, claims.

Funed participates as an Institute of Science and Technology (ICT) whose purpose is to carry out research for scientific and technological development in the field of public health, in research and production of medicines, as well as in laboratory analyzes in the field of harm to collective health . The expectation is that the cooperation will provide advances in several researches, but particularly in the research that is underway on ovarian cancer. “This process can contribute to the development of new drugs, diagnostic kits and other products for human health”, exemplifies Luciana.

The Mário Penna Institute – named after the doctor who became a pioneer in cancer treatment in Minas Gerais – has reference hospitals in cancer treatment, such as Hospital Mário Penna and Hospital Luxemburgo, in addition to the Beatriz Ferraz Support House, which welcomes patients from the countryside undergoing treatment at the Institute’s hospitals, the Center for Oncology Specialties (NEO) and a Center for Teaching and Research to discover treatments, diagnoses and a better understanding of cancer.

Currently, Instituto Mário Penna is responsible for attending 70% of new cancer cases in Belo Horizonte and its metropolitan region, and more than 20% of new cancer cases in the entire State of Minas Gerais. Defined as a fundamental part of the Institute’s strategic planning, the research activity developed through its Teaching and Research Center involves a multidisciplinary professional body, including members of the clinical staff who work in the investigation and production of data, generating knowledge and advances in the field of oncology.

The Translational Research Laboratory of the IMP’s Teaching and Research Nucleus is headed by researcher Letícia da Conceição Braga, Luciana Silva’s research partner, and carried out her doctoral experiments at Funed’s SBM. The two researchers are responsible for bringing innovation in cancer biotechnology to Minas Gerais, through the creation of the startup OncoTag, which was born at the Foundation in 2014, and which has in its development portfolio a molecular test for patients with ovarian cancer. According to Luciana, the pair has experience, complicity and commitment so that the two institutions can help improve the treatment of cancer patients through their research.

Relevance – Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2018 there were 10 million deaths due to cancer in the world. “Cancer continues to grow globally, exerting tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on people, families, communities and healthcare systems. Many of them, from middle-income countries like Brazil, are less prepared to manage this burden and many patients do not have access to adequate diagnosis and treatment”, recalls Luciana Silva.

Dr. Letícia Braga adds that this partnership with Funed means the joining of efforts of researchers and institutions working to strengthen the Unified Health System (SUS) can make a difference in this scenario and promote health through research and innovation for patients in the SUS.


NEP celebrates National Science Day and Researcher’s Day

National Science Day and Researcher Day are celebrated on July 8th. The date was created to highlight the importance of science for the country’s development, stimulate the interest of young people and disseminate scientific knowledge to society. Instituto Mário Penna has a Teaching and Research Nucleus (NEP) composed of a team of researchers dedicated exclusively to the development of scientific projects and clinical research applied to oncology.

The NEP was founded in 2015 with the purpose of acting in the investigation and production of scientific data. “Over the years, we have been generating knowledge and advances in the field of oncology, based on basic, translational and clinical research”; explains Dr. Paulo Guilherme, pathologist and Director of the Teaching and Research Center.

In Basic and Translational Research, the projects under development aim to identify cancer markers capable of offering a better quality of life to cancer patients, as well as supporting medical decisions. The research results should allow for an increasingly personalized medicine for the treatment of cancer patients. Currently, two projects approved by the National Oncology Care Program (Pronon) and dedicated to the research of biomarkers in female cancers (cervical, breast and ovarian cancer) and to the implementation of the first tumor bank in the State of Minas Gerais are underway. In addition, five doctoral and seven master’s projects are being developed, supervised by NEP researchers, in partnership with UFMG, UFU, Funed and Fio Cruz.

In Clinical Research, IMP researchers are currently working on three open studies for patient/volunteer recruitment: the Thor study for the treatment of bladder cancer and the Rigel and Kiniksa studies for the treatment of inpatients due to complications of cancer. Covid.

“In the coming months, we expect to open four more studies focusing on Covid’s treatment and another four to offer treatment for lung, cervical and bladder cancer”; emphasizes Dr. Paulo Guilherme.

NEP: understand the relationship of mutations to cancer

Genetic mutations can lead to the development of cancer and research shows that 66% of those that cause tumors are random, only 29% are linked to environment or lifestyle and only 5% are linked to heredity. But, do you know what mutations are?

All living beings have genetic material that is responsible for generating the organism and keeping it functioning. This genetic material works like a code that needs to be read and interpreted whenever a biological activity is needed in this organism. Each species has a genetic code that is its own and that is the same among all individuals of that species. However, each individual has small differences that distinguish them from each other. It happens to all of us too. We have the same genetic code, but each has small differences that make us different even when compared to our brothers.

When our cells are going to multiply, whether to repair damaged tissue or to replace other cells, this genetic code needs to duplicate itself. This is important so that each new cell has the same genetic information as the one that originated it. During this duplication step, small errors can happen in the genetic code and they are called mutations.

Most mutations that occur are corrected or the cell is destroyed. However, some cells with mutations can remain in the body. Some of these mutations can bring advantages to living beings and this type of mutation is one of those responsible for the evolution of living beings, that is, they are legal. But some can be quite problematic and can cause serious problems, like those that trigger cancer.

Identifying these mutations is essential to understand the characteristics of the disease and propose increasingly individualized treatment methodologies, thus helping patients to have a more efficient response to available treatments and, consequently, to have a greater chance of cure. In addition, knowledge of mutations in tumors can also identify new types of treatment.

“Working at the frontier of knowledge and research on cancer and with the purpose of expanding this scientific knowledge, proposing solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients, researchers from the Translational Research Laboratory of the Teaching and Research Center (NEP), are developing studies to assess the burden of mutations present in patients with breast and ovarian cancer; says Dr. Fábio Queiroz, one of the Laboratory’s researchers. The methodology applied in these surveys was developed by Qiagen™, an internationally renowned company in the production of biotechnology inputs.

*Text written by Dr. Fábio Ribeiro Queiroz

head and neck cancer

NEP conducts research related to head and neck cancer

World Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Day is celebrated on July 27th. One of the main problems for the treatment of this type of cancer is the late diagnosis, which occurs in 60% of cases, leaving sequelae in the patient.
We all want to avoid cancer, but this is not always easy. On the other hand, in head and neck cancer we can prevent the disease simply by avoiding exposure to factors that are related to the onset of the disease. There are well-known risk factors that can be easily avoided. The first factor: overexposure to sunlight. The second factor: cigarettes and alcohol and the situation is worse when the person has the habit of consuming large amounts of alcohol and smokes a lot. The third factor: HPV virus, the same one that is related to the appearance of cervical cancer in women.

câncer de cabeça e pescoço

In addition to prevention, early diagnosis and rapid initiation of treatment are essential for the cure of head and neck cancer, reducing the impact on patients’ quality of life. The Teaching and Research Center (NEP), through a partnership between the Translational Research Laboratory and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), develops the research project “Association between clinical and immunopathological aspects of orofacial pain and quality of life in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral mucosa”. The research is carried out by the master’s student Francine Barros de Oliveira, from the Postgraduate Program in Pathology at UFMG, under the guidance of Profa. Dr. Camila Megale Almeida-Leite (Dept of Morphology/Institute of Biological Sciences/UFMG) and co-supervision of Dr. Patricia Rocha Martins.

Dr. Paulo Guilherme de Oliveira Salles, Dr. Paulo Guilherme de Oliveira Salles, also participate in the research as members of the Mário Penna Institute (IMP) team. Juliana Maria Braga Sclauser and Dr. Letícia Braga, in addition to the medical team at the head and neck clinic. The project aims to evaluate in oral cancer patients seeking treatment at IMP, potential relationships between cancer characteristics, orofacial pain presented by the patient and quality of life.

According to Dr. Camila Megale, this research is the starting point for more detailed studies on the type of orofacial pain that patients with head and neck cancer have and how the type of cancer can interfere with pain as a symptom. “In the future, the results obtained will allow for an early treatment of the patient’s pain in a more specific way, based on information obtained from the biopsy and the initial consultations, which will make orofacial pain relief more effective.”




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