Sobrinho Simões Opens Hospital da Luz Oncology Congress

“This is the biggest mistake of the century: as we are able to decode the human genome, we believe we can solve everything and find the solution for cancer. Wrong! Leave the genes alone and do not forget the patients.” The warning comes from Manuel Sobrinho Simões, founder and director of the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Immunology and Pathology of Universidade do Porto (IPATIMUP), and it was expressed today at the opening ceremony of Leaping Forward, the Oncology International Congress organized by Hospital da Luz.

Considered the most influent pathologist in the world, Sobrinho Simões made an intervention on “Diagnosis and treatment in oncology: towards conciliation between narrative medicine and precision”. He started by giving his “definition” of tumor cell, assuming its controversy: “a highly organized and efficient cell and an invasive clone of our own tissues”. Then, he explained how these tumor cells appear and grow, invading tissues and revealing in the process “a complex functioning, quite similar to that of the human being”. Tumor cells need to expand, to go beyond their initial point of origin, to survive. There starts the process of invasion and metastasization, thence being so difficult to treat and eliminate cancer.

The scientist analysed the evolution and the relations between evidence based medicine, personalized medicine and precision medicine. That’s where he pointed out the mistake of those who think that everything was solved after decoding the human genome, synthetized in the following point: “the failure of the so-called precision medicine”. “It is impossible to conclude that one, two or a hundred thousand genes are the invaders. We can say that ‘if’ certain genes are altered, it is very likely that the invasion was triggered by them. Otherwise, it is then necessary to integrate the molecular data in the laboratorial clinical context. That is why I say: when we are treating a patient, we have to consider the specific characteristics of that patient and not only the average of the hundred thousand patients with similar conditions.”

The commitment of Hospital da Luz to modern medicine

Sobrinho Simões applauded the program of Leaping Forward Oncology, which started today at Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon, until next Saturday. It is the largest medical-scientific congress on oncology ever organized in Portugal, counting with the participation of 140 foreign specialists and 40 nationals, which will present and discuss the most recent discoveries and techniques in the treatment of the different oncologic diseases, that are the second major cause of death in Portugal.

José Luís Passos Coelho, coordinator of the Oncology Centres of Hospital da Luz and Hospital Beatriz Ângelo and director of Leaping Forward Oncology, welcomed the participants, at the opening ceremony: “This is the third congress organized by Hospital da Luz Lisboa, which will be entirely dedicated to cancer diseases. The challenge of organizing a congress exclusively on oncology derives from three aspects: the increasing incidence of cancer, the commitment of this institution in finding the best and most advanced treatments, and the social impact of this disease. It is an ambitious program”.

Isabel Vaz, Luz Saúde CEO, acknowledged the presence of all speakers and participants, and highlighted that the topics that will be discussed are “extremely challenging”. “Research and technology are part of Hospital da Luz DNA”, she concluded.