SPECTAcolor: driving biomarker discovery and the development of novel therapies against advanced colorectal cancer

Incorporating over 20 clinical centers and research entities across 11 countries, including the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) as the two partners from Spain, the SPECTAcolor – Screening Platform for Efficient Clinical Trials Access in Colorectal Cancer, is a unique initiative set within the framework of the research program of the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), supported by the Walgreens Boots Alliance.

More specifically, SPECTAcolor is the first ever tumor tissue samples biobank and biomarker analysis platform to assess molecular alterations in colorectal cancer patients whose disease is rapidly spreading. These patients will then be tested to identify their individual cancer markers for the possible inclusion in biomarker-led clinical trials.

Hosted by the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), Barcelona, Spain, and jointly organized by ICO and the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), today celebrated a special press conference, with the participation of both the Walgreens Boots Alliance and VHIO, to present both the objectives and successes thus far of this inspired, timely and pioneering project:

Source: EORTC and ICO

The Catalan Institute of Oncology welcomes delegates from Walgreens Boots Alliance

Barcelona – The Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) today welcomed a party of over 35 delegates from Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led health and wellbeing enterprise to showcase the workings of the Screening Patients for Efficient Clinical Trial Access (SPECTAcolor) Biobank of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) in Barcelona.

Dr. Ramon Salazar, MD, Head of the ICO Oncology Department, and his team, welcomed representatives from Walgreens Boots Alliance including Ornella Barra, Executive Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance, President and Chief Executive of Global Wholesale and International Retail, as well as other senior executives from the Company. In Spain, the project is supported by the pharmaceutical wholesale business of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Alliance Healthcare España.

With a pan-European network of over 20 clinical centers actively recruiting patients in 11 countries, the SPECTAcolor Biobank represents a new approach for treating patients with advanced colorectal cancer. It is the first tumor Biobank to use a biomarker analysis platform to test molecular alterations in colorectal cancer patients, whose illness is quickly spreading. The aim of the Biobank is to develop personalised clinically proven treatments.

In Spain, the EORTC has been closely working with the ICO and Vall d’Hebron Institute of oncology (VHIO) for the past 18 months on the formation of the SPECTAcolor Biobank. The established collaboration between these three leading organizations is playing an essential role towards finding a cure for patients with colorectal cancer. International collaboration plays an essential role in this type of joint project, and ICO-VHIO have proven to be first class partners.

Walgreens Boots Alliance formed a partnership with the EORTC Charitable Trust in 2011 (when it was Alliance Boots prior to its merger with Walgreens) to establish the Biobank for the study and development of cancer treatments, through employee-led fundraising initiatives which have engaged colleagues, suppliers and customers.

Ornella Barra in her role as Chairman of the Social Responsibility Committee, Walgreens Boots Alliance comments: “CSR is at the very heart of what we do as a business. We are delighted to be in a position to benefit organisations thanks to our expertise, enthusiasm and passion. This includes the EORTC Charitable Trust, which, with our support, is making significant progress with its pioneering SPECTAcolor Biobank project. I have always maintained that the long-term progress towards winning the fight against cancer depends on research, in order to find effective clinical treatments for patients. We are proud to play our part in this fight, and overall of our commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen, leading our industry peers by example.”

Dr. Denis Lacombe, Director of the EORTC says: “With a network of over 20 clinical centers across Europe actively recruiting patients in 11 countries, SPECTAcolor is also very active in Catalonia where the ICO and VHIO are essential partners who have already accrued 164 patients of the 570 total of Pan-European patients recruited so far”.

“SPECTAcolor represents a powerful, cross-border collaboration which will spur the timely insights necessary to render personalized medicine more precise and accessible for an increasing number of patients suffering from advanced colorectal cancer. As dedicated partner, VHIO will continue to accrue patients at local level through its tight connectivity with the Vall d´Hebron University Hospital´s Medical Oncology Department, as well as advance biomarker discovery aimed at the rapid development of novel therapies targeted to the needs of each individual colorectal cancer patient”,
says Dr. Josep Tabernero, MD, PhD, Director of the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO).

Dr. Xavier Sanjuán, Gastrointestinal Pathologist of the Bellvitge University Hospital, who collaborates in the project, explains “Molecular diagnostics has become the mainstay of treatment decisions of targeted therapies in colorectal cancer, both in clinical routine and research. This is transforming the way pathology department are organized and involves a great deal of networking between labs for the benefit of the current and future patients”.

Dr. Candela Calle, General Director of the ICO Catalan Institute of Oncology comments: “A Biobank for human biological material (HBM) dedicated exclusively to colorectal cancer is indeed a very novative and needed creation. Colorectal cancer , cancer of the colon and rectum is the second most frequent malignant disease in Europe and the third most common cancer worldwide. Every year, nearly half a million citizens in Europe are newly diagnosed with the disease which kills a quarter of a million Europeans every year. In Spain specifically, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death among cancers for both men (after lung cancer) and women (after breast cancer) with an estimated 14,700 deaths per year. This calls for urgent action.”

Looking ahead, the EORTC is to open the first ever biomarker-led clinical trial testing specialized medicine in collaboration with the drug development industry. This unique trial will soon welcome its first group of patients whose common denominator will be the same type of cancer identified through the analysis of the biomarker itself.

Thanks to its powerful international network of research, the EORTC’s SPECTAcolor Biobank will prolong and ultimately save lives of colorectal cancer patients.

– ENDS –

Further information:

About ICO:

The Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) is a public centre working exclusively in the field of cancer. Its approach to the disease is comprehensive, combining, all in one organisation, prevention, care, specialised training and research. The ICO is a public company created in 1995 by the Ministry of Health of the Government of Catalonia. It went into service a year later, operating from the Hospital Duran i Reynals in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, in coordination with Bellvitge University Hospital (HUB). Seven years later, in 2002, ICO Girona opened its doors, located in Hospital Universitari Doctor Josep Trueta, followed by ICO Badalona a year later, at the Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol. Currently, ICO is an oncology referral centre for more than 40% of the adult population of Catalonia

About the EORTC:


Founded in 1962, the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) brings together European cancer clinical research experts from all disciplines for trans-national collaboration. Both multinational and multidisciplinary, the EORTC Network comprises more than 2,500 collaborators from all disciplines involved in cancer treatment and research in more than 300 hospitals in over 30 countries.
Through translational and clinical research, the EORTC offers an integrated approach to drug development, drug evaluation programs and medical practices. EORTC Headquarters, a unique pan European clinical research infrastructure, is based in Brussels, Belgium, from where its various activities are coordinated and run. www.eortc.org.
Created in 1976, the EORTC Charitable Trust was established as an international association with the specific aim of obtaining funds for the support of the activities of the EORTC.

About Walgreens Boots Alliance:

Walgreens Boots Alliance (Nasdaq: WBA) is the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise in the world.

The company was created through the combination of Walgreens and Alliance Boots in December 2014, bringing together two leading companies with iconic brands, complementary geographic footprints, shared values and a heritage of trusted health care services through pharmaceutical wholesaling and community pharmacy care, dating back more than 100 years.

The company employs over 370,000 people and has a presence in more than 25* countries; it is the largest retail pharmacy, health and daily living destination in the USA and Europe. Including its equity method investments, Walgreens Boots Alliance is the global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail with over 12,800* stores in 11* countries. The company includes the largest global pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution network with over 340* distribution centers delivering to more than 180,000† pharmacies, doctors, health centers and hospitals each year in 19* countries. In addition, Walgreens Boots Alliance is the world’s largest purchaser of prescription drugs and many other health and wellbeing products.

Its portfolio of retail and business brands includes Walgreens, Duane Reade, Boots and Alliance Healthcare, as well as increasingly global health and beauty product brands, such as No7 and Botanics. More company information is available at www.walgreensbootsalliance.com.
*As at 30 November 2014 including equity method investments on a pro-forma basis.
†For year ended 30 November 2014 including equity method investments on a pro-forma basis.


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