In Latin America and the Caribbean, childhood leukemias are especially frequent and the percentage of children who survive the disease is much lower, between 50% - 80% depending on the types of leukemia and the countries, compared to 80-95% survival rate in Europe. This significant difference may be a consequence of many factors that go beyond the differences in the biology of leukemia, such as the difficulty of the population to access health, the lack of resources for diagnosis or the need for more research in the countries of origin.
The European Commission has begun to finance a project led by the hematologist Mireia Camós, of the Hospital Sant Joan de Deu Barcelona, which will work to study and create recommendations to alleviate these deficiencies, improve the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with childhood leukemia in Latin America. The goal of the so-called CLOSER project (Childhood Leukemia: Overcoming distance between South America and European Regions) is to reduce the differences in survival between the two regions. The project has been selected from a total of 48 submitted by research centers and hospitals throughout Europe and is the only one in the pediatric field. On January 17 and 18, the main researchers gathered to carry out a few days to start the project in Barcelona, organized by the Saint John of God Foundation.
Hospitals, professionals and research centers from both continents will participate
For five years, experts from all over Europe from Austria, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Spain will work with researchers from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay to promote a large epidemiological study that allows to know more precisely the cases of leukemia diagnosed in Latin America and above all find out what subtype they are. This information is key to apply treatments adapted to the risk of each patient, improve their prognosis and minimize side effects.
The project also foresees initiatives that simplify current diagnostic processes and find cheaper ones that are easily applicable to health centers in countries with fewer resources. The CLOSER project also includes a training program to qualify professionals in the best available diagnostic technologies. It also wants to give priority to the involvement of patients in the search to know not only the health needs but also educational and psychosocial needs of patients, their families and caregivers.
The research team will include doctors from different hospitals, laboratories, universities, research centers, patient foundations, health policy representatives, companies and representatives of civil society. Thus, the CLOSER project addresses the problem of childhood leukemia in an innovative and comprehensive manner, considering not only the scientific, but also economic, cultural, social, educational and environmental aspects of the countries of Latin America and Europe, with the objective end of improving the survival and quality of life of children with leukemia.
List of researchers:
SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital
Saint John of God Foundation Barcelona
Fundació Institut de Recerca contra la leucèmia Josep Carreras, Barcelona
Hospital de Pediatría SAMIC Prof. Dr. Juan P. Garrahan, Buenos Aires
St. Anna Kinderkrebsforschung, Viena
Hospital de Niños Roberto del Río, Santiago de Chile
Univerzita Karlova, Praga
Fundación Pérez Scremini, Montevideo
University Of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Newcastle
Asserta Global Healthcare Solutions, Barcelona
Pulseras Candela, Barcelona
Fundacion Natali Dafne Flexer, Buenos Aires
Fundación María Cecília de ayuda al niño oncológico, Buenos Aires
Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825749.