In Mexico, more than 23,000 new cases of breast cancer and close to 5,000 of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year: both neoplasms are the main causes of illness and death in Mexican women between 18 and 59 years of age.
For this reason, specialists from the National Institute of Genomic Medicine (Inmegen) developed the Early Surveillance Strategy program (EVE), whose objective is to detect in the DNA of patients genetic mutations that can trigger cancer in their body and prevent it from developing by counteracting it with changes in lifestyle or surgical or pharmacological treatments.
“Via EVE Inmegen offers an option of preventive surveillance, early detection and personalized treatment to the particular needs of each person. The program offers advice on predisposition at the molecular level to know if there is a risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. This allows us to anticipate the disease and make the best decisions”, mentioned the director of the Institute, Luis Alonso Herrera Montalvo.
The researcher explained that “thanks to science we have been able to identify the genetic markers in the DNA of people and thus identify a higher hereditary risk for developing breast cancer (BCR 1 and 2) or ovaries (AC 125) in simple form: that is EVE”.
Herrera Montalvo stressed that the infrastructure that the institute has “we want to make it available to the community in general to be able to identify people who have a higher genetic risk or a higher susceptibility to developing these diseases and to be able to offer them a complete package, which It is the identification of the variants associated with the disease, support with a team of doctors to provide nutritional advice, as well as genetic advice, and even psychological support.”
The message, he points out, “is that health is in our hands. We are responsible for our health, we must make the right decisions and prevent many diseases and that is what this institute is for, to find together the best way to do preventive medicine”.
During the start of this strategy, an academic and scientific collaboration agreement was signed between Inmegen and the Secretariat of Original Towns and Neighborhoods and Resident Indigenous Communities (SEPI) to work together for the right to health of people from indigenous communities in Mexico City.
In this regard, the owner of SEPI, Laura Ruiz Mondragón, thanked the inter-institutional collaboration and expressed that the intercultural character of the country’s capital is sustained in the communities and towns, considered the city with the greatest cultural diversity in America. She added that the project EVE It is a necessary and very useful tool, especially for all women.
“Our commitment is to promote the approach of indigenous women and native peoples to this cutting-edge tool that Inmegen researchers have designed, as well as collaborate to respond effectively to the care needs they require in other national languages,” Ruiz said. .
Meanwhile, the director of Research at Inmegen, Alfredo Hidalgo, pointed out that indigenous peoples play a fundamental role in the research carried out by the institute, which seeks to understand how the country’s history, from a cultural and genetic perspective, influences diseases. suffered by its inhabitants.
“We all proudly carry a mix of genetic markers that speak to our history of indigenous culture. As a country we are fortunate to have this living history in our genes. And it is with the pride of this genetic history in each one of us that today we present this Early Surveillance Strategy, which represents one of the fundamental tasks that this institute must carry out, which is to take advantage of how we understand our genetic history to prevent disease. ”, he stressed.
“It is a movement towards prevention, very different from curative medicine, where you already have a diagnosis and decide which therapy will be appropriate. With EVE The aim is to identify people who, due to their genetic makeup, have a variant in the DNA susceptible to cancer. These women may benefit from early surveillance, which in turn extends to the entire family when it comes to hereditary cancer syndrome, since genes can be inherited. So, affected people can be identified well in advance,” said Carmen Alaez Verson, head of the Inmegen Genomic Diagnostic Laboratory.
People interested in participating in the program must be over 18 years of age, have knowledge of breast or ovarian cancer cases in several members of the family (grandmother, mother, aunt, sisters, cousins, etc.), register at the page eva.inmegen.gob.mx or visit the Inmegen social networks, where they can express their doubts to find out if they are candidates for genetic studies.
“The study includes a genetic counseling consultation where the life of the person and the family will be explored. Then a consent is signed and subsequently a blood sample is taken from which peripheral blood leukocytes are obtained and from which the DNA and analyzed with massively parallel sequencing technology. All the genes that are important are analyzed there, to identify those that represent a risk”, the researcher mentioned.
Alaez Verson said that the number of tests that can be carried out in this first stage could reach 100, but everything will depend on whether the applicants meet all the criteria. “I think that 100 tests is a good number, because I believe that we will carry out less than 10% of those who come, who will really have justification to undergo the genetic study,” she specified.
Similarly, Rosa María Álvarez, a medical specialist in Genetics and cancer researcher at the National Cancer Institute (Incan), as well as head of the Hereditary Cancer Clinic, explained that current medicine tends towards prevention due to the high costs it represents. curative medicine. “Keeping the population healthy in the long run is more cost-effective than giving a cancer patient treatment, because according to estimates it requires an expense of half a million pesos,” she said.
“This strategy EVE invite know our history. When we carry out this type of strategy, we try to identify in a population who has very high risks, not the risk of any woman, but a potential risk of presenting the diseases; and with genetic technology they can be prevented and treated before it develops and wreaks havoc on the health of patients. If they are done at the right time, they will save suffering and loss of human life, ”she mentioned.
“Both in Mexico and in Latin America we see increasingly younger people affected by breast cancer and much lies in the lifestyle, the genetic load, but also in the ancestral history, derived from miscegenation. We still need more research. For this reason, the participation of the original indigenous communities is very valuable, knowledge that in the long run will hopefully be reflected in public health policies for the benefit of all Mexican women”, concluded the specialist.