Fondation MEDIC

What's new

Slide scanner for Nepal

MEDIC foundation has donated a slide scanner to Patan Hospital in Nepal. With this instrument histopathology slides can be digitized. The digitized slides can be sent off for rapid second opinions, which will increase the quality of histopathological diagnostics. They will also be used for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

New molecular classification of colorectal cancer

A consensus molecular classification of colorectal cancer has been proposed. Five subtypes have been described by a consortium of researchers, one of which is supported by the MEDIC foundation. The new classification is based upon patterns of gene expression, which define targetable molecular pathways in the different subtypes. This opens up new possibilities of targeted treatment of this very frequent form of cancer (Guinney J et al. The consensus molecular subtypes of colorectal cancer. Nat.Med.2015;21:1350-6).

Center for translational research in onco-hematology

Important progress has been made in our understanding of basic mechanisms responsible for the growth and differentiation of cells and what disturbs them to result in the growth of cancer cells. This is gradually improving cancer treatment and translational research intends to bring basic science and clinical research together to accelerate development of new treatments based on new knowledge. A public-private partnership around professor Pierre-Yves Dietrich, bringing together the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva, its University Hospital and a consortium of private Foundations (including the MEDIC Foundation) has allowed the creation of a translational research center in onco-hematology ( This center will play a crucial role in improving optimal care of this disease, of which the incidence is ever increasing. The center will closely collaborate with partners in Suisse Romande to guarantee cutting edge cancer care to its patients.

MEDIC days 2016

The dates for the 2016 MEDIC meeting have been fixed at nov. 21 and 22. We will have talks on the afternoon of nov. 21 and the usual dinner in the evening. On nov. 22 there will be another full day of talks. The program ends around 18.00. The venue is (no surprises!) the Hotel de la Paix in Lausanne. Make sure your group is well represented! A detailed programme with a registration form will follow shortly.

MEDIC days 2015

The dates for the 2015 MEDIC meeting have been fixed at nov. 5 and 6. We will have talks on the afternoon of nov. 5 and the usual dinner in the evening. On nov. 6 there will be another full day of talks. The program ends around 18.00. The venue is (no surprises!) the Hotel de la Paix in Lausanne. Make sure your group is well represented! A detailed programme with a registration form will follow shortly.

New integrative analysis of molecular data might radically change tumor classification systems.

Tumors have been classified since more than 150 years according to the type of tissue they originate in. It now appears, through integrative analysis of genomic data of more than 3500 specimens of 12 different types of cancer, that at a molecular level these can be reclassified in 11 new major cancer types. Five of these almost completely overlapped with existing (organ based) types but other organ based types converged into common molecular subtypes. Will this be the basis of future tumor classification?

Hoadley KA et al.Multiplatform analysis of 12 cancer types reveals molecular classification within and across tissues of origin. Cell 2014;158:929-44. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.049.

MEDIC days 2014

The dates for the 2014 MEDIC meeting have been fixed at nov. 13 and 14. We will have talks on the afternoon of nov. 13 and the usual dinner in the evening. On nov. 14 there will be another full day of talks. The program ends around 18.00. The venue is as usual the Hotel de la Paix in Lausanne.

The 6th volume in the 4th Edition of the WHO Classification of Human Tumours, dedicated to Tumours of Female Reproductive Organs, has been published

WHO Classification of Tumours of Female Reproductive Organs is the sixth volume in the 4th Edition of the WHO series on histological and genetic typing of human tumours. This authoritative, concise reference book provides an international standard for oncologists and pathologists and will serve as an indispensable guide for use in the design of studies monitoring response to therapy and clinical outcome.

MEDIC prize 2014

MEDIC has launched a call for applications for the MEDIC prize 2014. The prize has the character of a career development award for a young clinician-scientist who is setting up a new research group. The prize consists of CHF 100.000,- for two consecutive years with a large degree of freedom for the awardee to decide how the prize money will be spent. The applications will be judged by a jury composed of internationally recognized cancer researchers. Deadline for the applications is june 30. Further details can be found on this website under MEDIC prize.

Why naked mole rats are cancer resistant

Mice but also rats are frequently used for in-vivo modeling of cancer. They have a short life-span and a high cancer incidence and so provide an ideal model for cancer in man. Naked mole-rates live more than 30 years but surprisingly do not develop cancer. Why this is has been unraveled (doi:10.1038/nature12234). The answer provides new insight into cancer biology and might open up new therapeutic modalities.
Research has shown that naked mole-rat fibroblasts secrete a very high molecular weight hyaluronan which is less effectively degraded by hyaluronan degrading enzymes. This hyaluronan interferes with the role of CD44 in the development of cancer. It is suggested that the accumulation of this hyaluronan provides the skin elasticity needed for these animals to live in their underground tunnels. The trait then also conferred longevity and cancer resistance.

WHO Classification of Tumours of Soft Tissue and Bone

The 6th volume of the Series WHO Classification of Human Tumours, dedicated to tumours of bone and soft tissues, has been published.
Understanding of the biology of mesenchymal stem cells and their differentiation pathways is advancing rapidly and underpins new insight in the development of tumours of bone and soft tissues. In this 5th edition, which was published under responsibility of the IARC with MEDIC support, these new concepts have been included. Defining ‘benign’ and ‘malignant’ has been rather difficult for a variety of bone and soft tissue lesions. In this volume this dichotomous approach has been refined, resulting in a four-tiered classification of tumour behavior. In addition, new entities have been defined.

New colorectal cancer classifications around the corner?

Colon cancer is biologically and clinically heterogeneous. Some patients will relapse after initial surgical treatment, others will not. Of those that relapse, some will respond to treatment, others will have a treatment resistant tumour. Present classifications are incapable of predicting with a reasonable level of precision what will be the course of a particular tumour. Major steps have been set towards more detailed definition of colorectal cancer subtypes using molecular tools. In the April issue of Nature Medicine groups from Amsterdam (doi :10.1038/nm.3174) and Lausanne (doi :10.1038/nm.3175) propose new colorectal cancer subtypes based upon patterns of gene expression. These subtypes behave differently in terms of pathways involved and survival and ultimately will allow the development of new clinically significant colorectal cancer classifications. A MEDIC supported group has a paper in press adding important new information to this field.
The new classifications only partially overlap. What lies ahead is to pool the available data, add biological insight as well as essential clinical data, notably regarding patient outcome, and develop in a collaborative effort clinically applicable tools for improved patient management. In addition, new therapeutic targets along with companion diagnostics might be developed.

Screening Platform for Clinical Trials in Advanced Colorectal Cancer (SPECTAcolor)

The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) has taken the initiative to set up a new screening platform for patients with advanced colon cancer. Tissue samples of patients from all over Europe will be centrally collected and subjected to molecular tests to define in detail which molecular abnormalities characterize their cancer. Based upon such molecular profiling, patients will receive new forms of targeted treatment. The aim of this screening platform (which has been designated as SPECTAcolor) is to determine which molecular biomarkers predict to which drugs a pareticular cancers responds. Sais Sabine Tejpar, one of the principal investigators of SPECTAcolor: “The aim is to try to move things forward for patients with advanced colorectal cancer by systematically screening for the biomarkers we know to be relevant for ongoing trials or soon to be opened trials. It’s a bit like a matchmaking service linking patients up to clinical trials according to individual molecular profiles. We want to enable more patients to get to the clinical trials that are directly relevant to the characteristics of their cancers.”

Read more:

A megafund for drug development?

A recent paper in Nature Biotechnology proposes an innovative approach towards the financing of new drugs for cancer and other diseases that might solve the problem of the (unbearably) high risk of bringing a new drug from the development pipeline to the clinics.

As overall 90% of new compounds fail, investors steer away from this type of high risk investment. Stein and coauthors, Jose-Maria Fernandez and Andrew Lo, at MIT suggest that with the creation of a megafund, by pooling dozens or even hundreds of new drug ventures into a single investment fund that would amount to billions of US$ might generate enough profit to offset losses incurred by the majority that fail. Simulations with a hypothetical cancer drug megafund, described in an article in the October issue of Nature Biotechnology , suggest that such an approach would limit the risks and increase the likelihood of profit. The authors suggest that the numerous compounds that are waiting for funding could lead to an increase in the number of approvals for new drugs.

The 5th volume in the 4th Edition of the Series WHO Classification of Human Tumours, dedicated to tumours of the Breast, has been published

This important document will constitute the basis for classification of neoplastic lesions of the breast worldwide. The series is published by the International Agency for the Fight against Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, with financial support from the MEDIC Foundation.

Non-invasive molecular diagnostics are reshaping many fields of medicine.

Testing for fetal trisomy 21, based on a blood sample from the pregnant woman, has now become available in Switzerland (Nature Medicine DOI: 10.1038/nm.2312). Testing for possible response to drugs specifically targeting late stage colon cancer, based upon a blood sample, is also being introduced (Nature DOI:10.1038/Nature11156; Nature DOI:10.1038/Nature 11219).

New driver genes found in breast cancer.

Whole genome sequencing of 100 breast cancer has revealed that our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of breast cancer was incomplete. About 10 new cancer genes were identified. Moreover, breast cancers appear to have very heterogeneous genomes. Christos Sotiriou, member of our MEDIC consortium, is one of the authors of this landmark paper. Discover the paper at: