Project will be extended for 10 years

Researchers visit Molina, City in which unpublished project will be held to discuss high rates of cancer in the area

MAUCO project seeks to investigate the risk factors affecting the high rate of diseases such as cancer that exist in the population of the town of Molina. The research team visited the facilities of the project where more than 2300 people have already been taken care, occasion in which also made a talk to neighbors and students of the city.

In Chile, the majority of the population of the country is concentrated in the Metropolitan Region, which has led to a gradual centralization both administratively and on the design of public policies.

On the other hand, MAUCO project, developed by the Center for advanced studies of chronic diseases (ACCDiS for its acronym in English) It will take place largely outside the capital. This initiative seeks to identify the factors that influence the development of cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, Obesity, respiratory diseases, dementia and cancer, based on a study involving 10 thousand people from the town of Molina, Maule region, for a decade.

At that time, participants must undergo different tests and give different samples every two years, in an unprecedented effort that aims to be a reference model at the time of foundations to the public health policy.

The Director of the ACCDiS and academic at the University of Chile, Dr. Sergio Lavandero, He visited with his team dependencies which MAUCO project is developing, and participated in various activities with local authorities and the community.

Among them was talk "what is cancer?"that dictated the researcher at the Catholic University Gareth Owen, and a round table, where all the members of the research team answered questions from the public, composed of social leaders, elderly and secondary students of the town.

On the occasion, Dr. Lavandero stressed that "this project is of a magnitude seldom view that requires many people contest". This has not only a professional team very committed but also with the active support of the authorities and the population of the city, without which we could not have the advances that can be observed".

More than 3 thousand houses in the framework of the project MAUCO have registered so far, with over two thousand answered surveys and 1300 patients have been already made medical exam. Along with this, researchers will be monitoring of any income of the participants in a hospital of the public network of the region, for detailed information regarding possible risk factors for these diseases.

For the academic"the expectations behind this effort are high, particularly in terms of the contribution we can make to public policies by identifying what are the risk factors in our country before these diseases, for example, if there are genetic or environmental characteristics that influence". In addition, He stressed that there is a contribution in educational matters "since we have to see how this knowledge is transferred to the community. That is a critical point, Since we do not want that it is kept in a drawer".

The researcher at the Catholic University headed by MAUCO was expressed in the same line, the Dra. Catterina Ferreccio, for whom it has been instrumental in building a relationship of mutual trust with the local community. This has been achieved "working honestly, with transparency, with much flexibility and listening to the authorities, understanding their point of view and making the necessary changes to make the project acceptable", said.

In addition, different dissemination activities of the initiative have been generated, including the installation of an informative post on the Plaza de Armas in explaining the objective of the same, in what will be and what are the benefits it will bring to the population and the country.

The Mayor of Molina, Priscilla Castillo, It assessed the project and the meeting of the team of researchers with the citizens of Molina. "It is very significant to this talk taking such important visits. Although we received with concern the news that we are the commune with the highest rate of gastric cancer in the country, We believe that the most important thing is that we inform and participate in a project as important as this, that will serve to us but also to the country".

The importance of early detection of cancer

In his talk to the community Professor Gareth Owen emphasized the need to be attentive in order to be able to discover the existence of tumors as early as possible, in order to be able to undertake treatment with greater chances of success.

That's where research in nanomedicine may be an important contribution, This tool could help detection of tumor cells and to treat them more quickly. Dr. Marcelo Kogan of the University of Chile, He explained that "this area has to do with the manipulation of matter at the scale nano", where one nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter. This is very difficult to imagine because it is not possible to see a particle of this size but we can study them through methodologies such as electron microscopy".

The importance of this for this research is that "these particles have very interesting properties, for example the gold nanoparticle as absorbs light and dissipate it as heat, which serves to selectively destroy a tumor cell", said Kogan. In addition, he said that "these properties allow us to also detect cancer cells. Currently 100 thousand cells are needed to detect a tumor and that may be too late to start a treatment, the idea is to be able to detect a cell or ten cells".

"That is why these samples that we are taking in a healthy population are so important, because they allow us to detect very early that could be happening, but we can not see with conventional methods", said Kogan.

Text: Felipe Ramirez
Photographs: Alejandra Fuenzalida

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