Istituto Nazionale Tumori
Fondazione IRCCS – Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori (INT) is a public hospital and a government-designated national centre for treatment and research (IRCCS). Founded in 1928, the institute is a Comprehensive Cancer Center, a structure entirely dedicated to the treatment of and research on cancer, and is a recognized national and international reference center for both higher incidence tumors and rare tumors, as demonstrated by its role as the coordinator of a programme at the European level, the Joint Action on Rare Cancers, from 2016 to 2020.
INT was ranked by the Ministry of Health among the best research and care institutes devoted to a single disease, a reference center for the most frequent types of tumor, rare tumors, and paediatric cancer. It has been evaluated as the foremost national IRCCS, judging from its achieved results and based on the ranking system adopted by the Italian Ministry of Health (which includes the assessment of scientific output, healthcare activity and productivity measures and networking capability) to grant funds through its “Institutional funding” program.
INT represents a pole of excellence for pre-clinical, translational, clinical and organizational-managerial research activities. The research conducted in the institute aims to improve the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of oncological diseases, and the quality of life of cancer patients.
INT is also the largest center for pediatric oncology in Italy and the second in Europe, and is the only Italian cancer center authorized for liver transplantation: the Institute was the seat where the “Criteria of Milan” were defined, a set of guidelines adopted by Centers for liver transplantation worldwide. INT is also a reference center part of the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (ENETS) for the diagnosis and treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumors, and one of the top ten centers in Europe in this field.
INT stands out for the close interplay between research and clinical activity in the fields of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and for its multidisciplinary approach. Among the objectives constantly pursued, the activity of informing citizens about the prevention and treatment of oncological diseases plays a central role. This is the direction taken by research aimed at cancer prevention, carrying the message that our lifestyle can influence the risk of getting sick and that we can reduce this risk by changing our lifestyle (Primary Prevention). Moreover, many programmes and projects are trying to improve the effectiveness of screening programs for populations at risk, in order to achieve a reliable diagnosis as early as possible (Secondary Prevention). Even for those who are ill, it is essential to intervene early to increase patients’ survival and offer them a better quality of life (Tertiary Prevention).
INT has always been a national and international reference center for clinical studies aimed at improving treatment, but also for the implementation of innovative forms of management and organization in the health and care sectors.
On the research front, the application of new technologies allows us to understand more and more how genes interact and what are the responsibilities of these interactions in the development of tumors. Thanks to the description of the mechanisms of tumor transformation from basic and translational research, we arrive at the formulation of innovative therapies whose real effectiveness is demonstrated through clinical trials. These increasingly study target drugs which reduce the need for conventional chemotherapy. The patient takes center stage through his active involvement in the study at all levels, providing his own assessment on the quality of life during the course of therapy, and making himself available for clinical and radiological checks and follow-up over time, thus improving a study’s efficiency. Only in this way it will be possible to identify therapies that will become a new standard in the future, able to extend the lifespan of the patient or increase the rate of recovery from the disease. From these presuppositions comes on the one hand “predictive medicine” aimed at carrying out genetic analysis on healthy people to quantify their risk of developing a tumor and consequently offer them individual follow-up or specific interventions, on the other hand, the personalization of the diagnostic-therapeutic path that, with an established disease, includes personalized diagnoses in turn used to decide personalized therapies.
- INT was the first Italian oncological IRCCS to become an OECI-accredited Comprehensive Cancer Centre in 2015, a certification renewed in 2021;
- Since October 2017, INT is part of the Cancer Core Europe (CCE) association, a network that includes 7 of the best European cancer care and research centers;
- INT is the largest center of pediatric oncology in Italy, and the second in Europe;
- INT is the only Italian Cancer Center authorized for liver transplantation;
- INT is the reference centre of the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (ENETS) for the diagnosis and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors;
- INT is an authorized center for Advanced Therapies (gene therapy, cell therapy) and accredited for treatments with CAR-T;
- INT is a a full-fledged member in more than 10 international organizations for cancer care and research, including OECI, CCE, ESMO, UICC, WIN, EORTC, DIGICORE;
- INT is a full member in three European Reference Networks: EURACAN, PAEDCAN, GENTURIS.
Research within the Institute is focused on:
- Production of antibodies and their fragments in different formats, immunoconjugated and bi-specific.
- Identification and development of genes, RNAs, and peptides/proteins as diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive biomarkers for the early recognition/stratification of patients requiring intensified treatment options or unlikely to respond to therapies.
- Discovery on the role played by the immune system in cancer progression: impact on the new therapeutic approach of oncological diseases.
- Defining mechanisms of drug resistance to available therapies.
- Development of new reliable tools for noninvasive screening and diagnosis of cancer such as breath analysis.
- Development of decision support systems for physicians (apps, algorithms) and outcome measurement for patients.