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Fabrice BARLESI

MD, PhD

    Professor of Medicine at Aix-Marseille University | Medical Director of Gustave Roussy Institute | Coordinator of the Pioneer Project RHU

AMU, Gustave Roussy, The Pioneer Project

MI both accelerates research and development in immuno-oncology and offers cancer patients more options in terms of diagnostics and treatments, as well as more innovative clinical trials.

In less than a decade, cancer diagnosis and treatment has progressed considerably. As in many other cancers, “histologic historical classification” of lung tumors into sub-types (squamous cell, adenocarcinoma, large or small carcinoma cells) was disrupted by the advent of molecular profiling. Today, more than a dozen forms of lung tumors have been identified based on molecular alterations leading to bio-guided treatments, marketed or under development, with a significant improvement in survival. Furthermore, by unlocking the immune system of patients, new immunotherapy antibodies have allowed spectacular survival rates in some advanced forms of cancer.

Today, the goal is to optimize and accelerate the research and development of these innovations, starting with immunotherapies. To date, only about 20% patients respond to these treatments. Together with researchers and industrials, we are seeking ways to identify the responders in advance using biomarkers, to understand the mechanisms of resistance to first generation immunotherapy antibodies (the PD1(L1) immune checkpoint inhibitors) and test new therapeutic combinations able to circumvent these resistances. In this context, I have been coordinating since 2017 the RHU The Pioneer Project, a major international research project amounting to €25.5 million that brings together 3 countries, more than 100 scientists, 8 research laboratories and 11 hospital centers.

At the interface between the laboratory and the patient’s bed, these projects require expertise and interdisciplinarity; bringing them together is the main objective of the Marseille Immunopole collective. MI allows to accelerate research and development in immuno-oncology and to offer cancer patients more options in terms of diagnostics and treatments, as well as more innovative clinical trials.

#clinique