Researchers bring scientific knowledge and health prevention habits closer to citizens
As part of a civic science initiative, a group of researchers form the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) in collaboration with the Mexican Autonomous Technological Institute (ITAM), the National Institute of Carcinology (INCan) and the Philosophical Research Institute at the National Autonomous Mexican University (UNAM); with the support of the Science and Technology National Counsel (CONACYT), the Mexican Society for the Popularization of Science and Technology (SOMEDICYT), the Science Popularization Department (DGDC) at UNAM and the Mexican Academy of Sciences, developed "Science that breathes", a science popularization project that seeks to promote a scientific and health prevention culture among the national population.
The multi-disciplinary group of researchers design six civic science projects that attend to national public health problems. The initiative will take the information to the streets and will search for the citizen's participation alongside the scientists.
"Science that breathes" allows to accelerate the scientific development of the diverse health problems it approaches. One of the projects belongs to the National Institute of Carcinology (INCan) that developed a transcendent venture for the decision making regarding lung cancer, which is primarily caused by smoking.
INCan has achieved a transition from a 9 months survival rate to 30, with personalized treatment for patients diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, meaning, when the pathology has spread through the body.
"Currently, treatment against this pathology is not the same for every patient as it used to be with chemotherapy, today every patient gets a personal treatment", Oscar Gerardo Arrieta Rodríguez, head of research at the Laboratory of Experimental Oncology at the INCan explains, and whose group of research participates in the civic science project "Science that breathes".
When lung cancer occurs is because the cellular body growth is out of control, the cells divide too fast or "forget" to die. In patients with cancer, the quality of life can be a determinant factor in the success of the therapies, knowing the quality of life of the patient and integrating it to the therapeutic decision making, is a medical practice that is currently rising.
In Mexico, as throughout the world, is already possible to give personalized treatment using biomarkers and oral drugs in patients with this pathology and that present mutations in the epidermal growth factor.
Looking to know the frequency of the tumor's mutations in patients with lung cancer in Mexico and LatAm, INCan has recollected sample from five thousand patients (in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia).
In Mexico, the frequency of the mutations is between 35 and 40 per cent, which leads to having a better response to personalized treatment, and knowing to which treatment the patient will respond.
"In Mexico the mutation rate is high, which help us in the personalized treatment. We have achieved an 80 per cent improvement in the metastatic stage and 30 months of good quality of life; meanwhile the chemotherapy has just a 30 per cent response in some cases", Arrieta Rodríguez indicates.
The INCan in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of the USA, performs a research to know the origin of the mutations, given that this are present in bigger proportion in the Latinos than in the Europeans or Americans, the last ones presenting a 14 per cent mutation.
Another important aspect in the election of the treatment for lung cancer patients is the estimation of life quality. This is a tool broadly used in several cancer types to offer an adequate treatment to patients taking account their global physical state. The estimation of life quality is made through a simple questionnaire internationally validated in which the patient reflects his or her physical state with simple answers.
Among the initiatives of the civic science project "Science that breathes", a questionnaire to estimate life quality in people that has or has had cancer is made available, looking to gather a great quantity of data that will allow to have evidence of the importance of this element in the therapeutic process of decision making and incorporate it in daily clinical practice.