Questions to Jean-Paul Borg, Director of the CRCM
A building dedicated exclusively to research, the arrival of new teams, a major reorganization of all research activities, ... what are the issues associated with this restructuring?
During the past twenty years thanks to advances in imaging, molecular biology and genomics, researchers have identified many tumor antigens, dissected some of the molecular cascades that lead to malignant transformation or activation of our immune cells, updated the mechanisms of tolerance, established the genetic profile of many tumors ... These discoveries have paved the way for a new classification of cancers, targeted drugs such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors or monoclonal antibodies and, more broadly, to individualized treatment, the fruits of biologically more rational decisions.
As indicated by the number and quality of discoveries, patents and clinical studies conducted in the Institute, the IPC is at the forefront of this revolution in science and medicine.
Nevertheless, cancer remains a complex and multifactorial disease and medical needs are still enormous. Our goal is to become better and faster: accelerate the discovery of new diagnostic and therapeutic targets, more effective and tailored to the patient's profile. We want to allow the patient to benefit from these innovations as quickly as possible and in turn improve our understanding of disease mechanisms and biology of these new treatments by clinical observations and analysis of biological samples.
A continuum between biology and clinic
Of course, the strength of the IPC is its scientific and medical excellence and advanced technology but also the constant questioning and the collaborative culture that make possible the continuous back and forth interaction between biology and the clinic.
The goal of the reorganization of our research is to bring even closer all players contributing to the advancement of our discipline:
the discoverers affiliated with Inserm, CNRS and/or Aix-Marseille University of the targets of basic research, translational research experts that guide these discoveries to applications, oncologists and personnel that evaluate the efficacy and safety in clinical development of these new treatments and to make available the 80,000 samples of our biobank and the best technology and engineering.
If we want to advance our knowledge in oncology it is imperative that research be closely involved in the care of patients.
This is because research in the IPC is first and foremost determined by the needs of the oncologist and his patient but also because the manner in which the patient responds to treatment is full of information for the researcher, whether he is oriented to fundamental or more applied studies. In this way, when a patient is resistant to treatment, the researcher quickly explores the biological peculiarities of the tumor to identify a potential biomarker associated with this resistance. Once validated, this biomarker will be used by the oncologist to stratify patients and use this treatment only for patients who may benefit from it.
Our transversal and multidisciplinary approach of cancer research translates in our scientific projects exploring the fundamental bases of tumourigenesis from the molecular and functional point of view in integrated experimental models and their applications in potential new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for the main pathologies of focus of the hospital.
The multidisciplinarity of our strategy and our experimental approaches is assisted by the technological platforms of the CRCM and the (pre)clinical platforms of Institut Paoli-Calmettes which are extremely well developed and allows the development of both fundamental academic research programmes but also of Research & Development programmes in tight collaboration with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
Our Centre is also a training and education ground affiliated with Aix-Marseille University which welcomes scientists and students from a wide range of countries in its research teams, technological and (pre-)clinical platforms.
Our internal and external seminars are also excellent opportunities for training and scientific discussion that allow all members of the CRCM, junior or senior, to share scientific knowledge and experience.