Why a Research Institute focusing on Leukaemia & other malignant blood diseases?
Because it is possible to find a definitive cure
Leukaemias, together with other malignant blood diseases, represent one of the most important challenges in the study and treatment of cancer in the human species. In fact they have represented, and continue to represent, a model of curable cancer. It is not surprising, therefore, that the two cancers that are, for a large proportion of patients, currently curable are pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (LLA) and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Although the sub-types of leukaemia are extremely numerous, new methods of perfecting this classification are being constantly developed as are, therefore, new and less invasive treatments. This is one of the aims of the Josep Carreras Institute since, to put it simply, if we know the name of the disease we will be able to make progress with its differentiated treatment.
Because the problem affects many people
One of the important factors to be borne in mind when considering the establishment of a research institute specifically focused on malignant blood diseases is their incidence amongst the general population. In Spain there are 5,000 new cases of leukaemia every year and, with respect to other malignant blood diseases such as lymphomas and myelomas, there are 7,000 and 2,000 new patients every year in our country, respectively. Finally, it is important to remember that leukemia is the most frequent cancer to affect children, accounting for 30% of such cancers
Because we want to make research available to patients
The evolution of hematology as a branch of medicine in our country is another reason we could offer to support the need for the creation of the Institute. Hematology is one of the specialist branches of medicine to have experienced spectacular development at both the basic and clinical levels. If there is an area of medicine capable of adapting to, and taking advantage of, the challenges posed by translational research, it is hematology. We need translational research: starting with DNA studies, to patient's clinical care and clinical trials, and vice versa.
Because there are good precedents
The advances made over recent years in identifying the various malignant blood diseases also represent a fantastic opportunity. We could cite, for example, the use of pediatric protocols for young adults, the use of umbilical cord blood transplants and haploidentical transplants, or the use of new medicines such as imatinib and retinoic acid for chronic myeloid leukemia and acute promyelocytic leukemia respectively, leukemia sub-types that previously had an unfavourable prognosis.
Because we know how to do it
The Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute was established as the first centre in Europe, and one of the very few in the world, to focus exclusively on promoting research into malignant blood diseases. The size of the centre makes it possible to optimise efficiency, in such a way that the various work groups devoted to different lines of research are closely interrelated.
Because we will never give up
Finally, it should never be forgotten that Josep Carreras is an example of struggle and survival. He is a person who has devoted his life to achieving a goal: that one day leukaemia will be a curable disease for everyone and in all cases, and this Institute is determined to achieve that goal.