Molecular Prescreening Program

VHIO’s Molecular Prescreening Program, driven by FERO’s Institutional Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Program (DIAMAV), catalyzes precision medicine at VHIO. Over the last decade, DIAMAV has provided access to advanced molecular diagnostics to more than 5,000 cancer patients, and is critical in matching targeted therapeutic approaches with hundreds of clinical trial opportunities.

This program, also counting on the support and expertise provided through our Research Unit for Molecular Therapy of Cancer (UITM) – CaixaResearch, funded by the ”la Caixa” Foundation, is coordinated by Susana Aguilar (Head of VHIOTECA), and is based on the activity of VHIO’s Cancer Genomics Group, and Molecular Oncology Group, in collaboration with our Early Clinical Drug Development Group.

The main objective of the program is to facilitate clinical implementation of emerging cancer biomarkers that help optimize the selection of therapies for patients being considered for enrolment in clinical trials. Our program guides clinicians in selecting novel anti-cancer treatments and facilitates clinical-molecular correlative research at VHIO. Diagnostic tests are developed and validated in-house for the cost-effective and streamlined identification of tumor molecular alterations of major interest in drug development.

Tumor profiling includes a variety of genomic techniques including next-generation sequencing panels for the detection of mutations, copy number variations, gene fusions and RNA expression signatures, as well as histopathological techniques such as immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH) for protein and gene expression profiling. In 2020, we have performed tumor molecular profiling in over 1,100 cancer patients that are candidates for enrolment in clinical trials. In total, around 150 patients were treated with biomarker-matched innovative therapies as a result of these efforts. Interpretation of next-generation sequencing tests and educating clinicians on emerging biomarkers is another of our priority areas.

Figure: Molecular Prescreening Program at VHIO. (A) Interrelationship between Genomic and Molecular Pathology laboratories with clinical oncologists, and the functionality of the Prescreening Program. (B) Number of genomic and proteomic tests per tumor type. (C) Distribution of tumor types profiled in 2020.

Molecular Prescreening Program
Program Coordinator

Susana Aguilar – Group Leader, VHIOTECA


Ana Vivancos – Group Leader, VHIO’s Cancer Genomics Group

Paolo Nuciforo – Group Leader, VHIO’s Molecular Oncology Group

Elena Garralda – Director, VHIO’s Research Unit for Molecular Therapy of Cancer (UITM) – CaixaResearch and Group Leader of VHIO’s Early Clinical Drug Development Group

Rodrigo Dienstmann – Group Leader, VHIO’s Oncology Data Science (ODysSey) Group

Research Support Technician

Jenifer Gonzalez