Relevant projects in pediatric hematology and oncology at Vall d'Hebron are presented at the Iberian congress of the specialty

The presentations include the one given by Dr. María Pérez Torres, who received the award for the best oral communication for a project on the use of mesenchymal cells to reduce complications after hematopoietic progenitor transplantation.


The 2nd Iberian Congress of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology was held last May, organized by the Spanish Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (SEHOP) and the Portuguese Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (SHOP). In this meeting, in which more than 200 projects were presented, three oral communications by professionals of the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Service of the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and the group of Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders of the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) stand out.

Among the presentations are two projects with the aim of advancing the knowledge of hematopoietic progenitor transplantation. Whether due to a malignant tumor or an alteration in the function of the bone marrow, this transplant aims to restore the function of the bone marrow to produce blood cells. To do this, cells must be obtained from the bone marrow (either from the patient or a donor), from the umbilical cord or from the blood.

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is a complex procedure in which patients can be exposed to numerous complications that can be serious, such as graft-versus-host disease (in which the new cells attack the patient's own tissues) or hemorrhagic cystitis. In this regard, Dr. María Pérez-Torres received the award for the best oral communication for a paper on the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to prevent or treat them. These cells are capable of differentiating into various cell types and seem to have a relevant role in favoring the differentiation of blood cells.

Dr. Perez-Torres' work studied the safety and efficacy of the use of MSCs in 30 pediatric patients for the treatment of complications in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. 83% of patients responded positively and a reduction in complications was observed, demonstrating that the use of MSCs would help the evolution of patients.

Furthermore, in the field of hematology, Dr. Maribel Benítez focused her presentation at the congress with the results of an analysis of donor-related factors that favor the success of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, specifically in patients with transfusion-dependent thalassemia. In this severe disorder, insufficient hemoglobin is produced, resulting in severe anemia requiring transplantation.

Specifically, the results were compared according to whether the patients had received a transplant from an identical family donor, such as a brother or sister, or from an unrelated donor. Survival was found to be comparable in both cases, although the incidence of acute graft-versus-recipient disease was higher in unrelated donors. Even so, the authors of the study emphasize that an unrelated donor should be considered in patients affected by this pathology and who do not have an identical family donor.

Finally, Andrea Vilaplana presented the results of the first phase of the SEHOP-PENCIL study, a coordinated national project whose aim is to facilitate access to sequencing studies for all children and adolescents with cancer in Spain. By sequencing tumors, it is possible to offer personalized treatments or access to clinical trials of new therapies to a larger number of patients, regardless of their place of residence.

The work presented showed the results of a national survey addressed to different hospitals in Spain with questions on the situation of personalized medicine. Thus, it was observed that, despite the fact that a high percentage of centers are starting to implement tumor sequencing in clinical practice, there are large differences as to which techniques are used and at what point in the evolution of the disease they are applied.

In addition to the oral communications, professionals from the same group also participated with the presentation of five posters, in a round table, in a nursing session and in a 'Tumor Board' with other young researchers in the field.

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