SUR

Cancer genome sequencing

Malaga province has become an international role model for sequencing

PEDRO LUIS GÓMEZ

The Andalusian Cancer Society has called for hospitals to be able to sequence the cancers of all patients who need it.

This, which should have been standard for many years, was nevertheless a gap in the national healthcare system, despite the fact that the help of genome sequencing in the fight against the terrible disease has been more than demonstrated.

In Andalucía, the situation is very deficient, with the exception of Malaga, where civil society took a step forward (not followed in the other provinces of Spain, it must be said), led by the Director of Medical Oncology at Hospital Clínico Universitario Virgen de la Victoria, Emilio Alba.

The Malaga Association for Oncology Research (AIOM) was presented to society on 13 February 2014 under the slogan "Because we are not all the same, all cancers are not" and was very warmly received by the people of Malaga.

In eight years, Malaga, with AIOM, has managed to have two genome sequencers, one owned by the association and the other through a 'rental' system.

As a result, 1,700 Malaga province residents have been sequenced, as well as all the children in Andalucía who are suffering from cancer.

In the rest of our region there are only two other 'devices', and they have only recently been set up, one in Seville and the other in Marbella by the King Fahd Foundation.

Malaga, then, has been ahead of the curve in something that is essential: sequencing cancers to determine the possible specific treatment for each one of them.

In this leadership there are some names that stand out: the aforementioned Emilio Alba, the mayor Francisco de la Torre, the director general of the Unicaja Foundation, Sergio Corral, the former rector and the current rector, Adelaida de la Calle and José Ángel Narváez, the board of AIOM (anonymous as they can be and whose structure also does not include a single salary), to Malaga and the people of Malaga.

Thanks to them, all Andalusian children affected by cancer have now been sequenced and the province is a reference not only in Spain but also internationally.

It is clear that the health system has shortcomings, but civil society must also get involved. Not everything can (and should) be left to 'mum and dad' administration. Malaga has been an example in this matter.