Supported by the Fundació Bancària “la Caixa”, VHIO organizes International Symposium aimed at empowering predictive cancer models

  • The Symposium´s educational supporter, the Fundació Bancària “la Caixa”, backs this first-class two-day exploration into the most relevant and recent advances in predictive cancer science
  • Towards Predictive Cancer Models, 26 – 27 May, Barcelona, represents an important forward-step towards empowering current preclinical cancer models by pooling knowledge, sharing perspectives and collectively seeking to more swiftly advance precision science and medicine against cancer
  • As a reflection of the scientific program of excellence, Nature Reviews Cancer sponsors two poster prizes that will be awarded to the top two posters – selected among some 50 accepted abstracts

Barcelona, May 26, 2016.- Over the next two days, the Vall d’Hebrón Institute of Oncology (VHIO), supported by an educational grant from the Fundació Bancària “la Caixa”, is leading an international symposium in Barcelona focused on preclinical cancer models, co-chaired by Joaquín Arribas, Director of Preclinical Research at VHIO, and Laura Soucek, Principal Investigator of VHIO´s Mouse Models of Cancer Therapy Group.

By convening internationally acclaimed experts within the field, this two-day program of debate and exchange of the very latest data, will tackle future study design and how best to report, validate and share results so that we can look to build on the undeniable progress marked to-date by each and every model under the lens during our meeting, and thus, ultimately advance experimental therapies towards improved outcomes for patients.

Preclinical cancer models are critical tools to identify factors that influence tumor growth, predict cancer progression and response to certain treatments. Conversation surrounding which predictive cancer models outperform others has been widely documented in the literature with each undergoing intense scrutiny. The predictive power of current preclinical models and the reliability of the data reported through recent studies are frequently called into question upon review of false positive results coupled with the compounds that, while showing efficacy in preclinical studies, ultimately fails in early phase trials. It´s not a question about where to pin the best model medal. Each has its own strengths, its limitations. We all however agree that current models certainly need to be improved,” states Joaquín Arribas.

“The problem that we are finding is that experimental results often do not correctly predict the clinical outcome of certain anti-cancer therapies.” adds Laura Soucek. Both experts agree that determined efforts must focus on advancing today´s array of modeling systems to provide the predictive data required to reliably inform the clinical development of innovative agents and evidence reproducibility in science before moving to the clinic.

For the symposium chairs, without doubt, “predicting which drug or combination of drugs will be the most effective continues to represent a major challenge,” continues Laura. “We must therefore identify all possible synergies between different experimental models and connect experts working together on each of these models to obtain the most informed and reliable data about the drug or the disease itself.”

“Some researchers defend the use of zebrafish, others the fruit fly and others, mouse models. Each research group is an expert on its own model. It is about openly sharing and exchanging this knowledge across the cancer research community,” adds Joaquín Arribas.

During the Symposium, some of the most important talks will focus on future study design and how to improve information systems, validate and share results to ultimately build on the undeniable progress marked to-date by each and every model explored throughout the meeting. Participants and Speakers alike can all look forward to discussing latest research showing the ´tried, tested and validated´ of a variety of modelling systems and combined approaches across various tumor types as well as cutting-edge data from organoids and PDX models, sometimes referred to as ´avatar mice´. “These mice are characterized as being immunocompromised, so that they do not reject the implanted patient’s cells, and are constantly evolving to meet the needs of researchers,” affirms Laura. In this context, Joaquín Arribas also highlights some of the limitations of these models for immunotherapy studies observing that, “we share a dedicated commitment to increasingly ´humanize´ models, for example, with the patient’s own immune system.”

By providing equal expertise and attention across each and every model under discussion throughout the course of this unparalleled educational opportunity, this meeting will undoubtedly represent and important forward step in advancing prediction science against cancer.


For further information please contact Amanda Wren, Director of International Communications, via email:

About the Fundació Bancària “la Caixa”

The Fundació Bancària “la Caixa”, consolidated its activities in 2015 in order to construct a better and more just society, providing support an opportunities to the people who need it most. Last year, and through welfare projects, it helped 9.9 million beneficiaries who participated in 46,209 projects. For 2016, it has a budget of 500 million euros, which is the same amount as the previous eight years. This cements its status as Spain’s most important foundation with regard to resources invested in social action and one of the most important foundations in Europe and the world. Social programs and research support are priority areas over the coming years, along with the dissemination of science and culture.

About the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO)

Established in 2006, VHIO is a leading comprehensive cancer center of excellence where its scientists and research physicians adopt a purely translational research model, working together as multidisciplinary teams to both accelerate and advance personalized and targeted therapies against cancer. Undertaking one of Spain´s most dynamic cancer research programs, VHIO is dedicated to delivering on the promise of ´precision´ medicine in oncology – turning cancer discovery into more effective treatments and better practice for the care of our patients.

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