Although cancer research in South America has been largely led by the pharmaceutical industry, a number of independent research groups are active in the region.
Peru: GECOPERU and INEN
The Peruvian Oncology Clinical Studies Group (Grupo de Estudios Clínicos Oncológicos Peruano, or GECOPERU [gecoperu.org]) was founded in March 2005 as a nonprofit academic organization, interested in the development of basic research, epidemiology, translational research, and clinical trials. It works to discover new treatments and set standards in the management of cancer and to translate this knowledge by increasing the chances of cure and survival of cancer patients. It has a central operating office and partnerships with several international groups (CIBOMA, IBCSG, BIG, and others).
The National Institute for Neoplastic Diseases (Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplásicas, or INEN [www.inen.sld.pe/portal/investigacion.html]) is the governmental body for cancer control and policy in Peru. Basic and clinical research activities are an important component of INEN’s strategic planning.
The Chilean Cooperative Group for Oncological Research (Grupo Oncológico Cooperative Chileno de Investigación, or GOCCHI [www.gocchi.org]) is a nonprofit corporation registered in Chile since 1998. GOCCHI is conducting academic clinical trials in oncology based on the highest scientific, methodologic, and ethical standards.
The principles and goals of GOCCHI are to plan, promote, and develop oncologic research in Chile, to promote and optimize the cooperative work of the clinical and investigational centers of the private and public sector as well as between the Ministry of Health and the universities, and to prepare and present reports and studies related to oncology.
The network of clinical centers affiliated with GOCCHI consists of more than 20 private and public institutions across the country, with 210 affiliated members, including medical oncologists, radiotherapists, oncologic surgeons, pathologists, and basic science researchers.
Brazil: The LACOG Group
The Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group (LACOG [www.lacog.org.br]) was founded in 2008 by medical oncologists from several Latin American countries. It is a nonprofit organization and legal entity for academic cancer research in Latin America, developing a network of investigators in oncology for epidemiologic and clinical studies in cancer. LACOG has 47 members in 39 sites from 10 countries in the region. Currently, the group has seven ongoing studies.
Argentina: GOCS, IATTGI, and GAICO
The South Cooperative Oncology Group (Grupo Oncológico Cooperativo del Sur, or GOCS [www.gocsbhb.com.ar/archivos/gocs_principal.html]) was founded in 1978 by medical oncologists from Neuquén and Bahía Blanca, Argentina, with the objective of improving patient care through the development of clinical research and professional and public education. Today, more than 10 institutions involved in cancer patient care (members and affiliates) from different cities in Argentina and other countries participate in GOCS clinical studies and educational activities.
Since its founding, the GOCS group has devoted a great deal of effort to clinical investigations of breast cancer, lung cancer, biochemical modulation in colorectal cancer, and, to a lesser extent, research areas such as prognostic factors and supportive care. All member institutions follow a uniform method of data collection, registration, and management (which allows for the presentation of reliable information) and a peer-review system.
Every GOCS center has a computerized database, and all of these systems are interconnected by means of telecommunications. This enables the daily exchange of information as well as the monitoring of studies in progress.
The GOCS sponsors scientific meetings, lectures by renowned personalities in oncology, and training fellowships for Argentine and foreign-born oncologists. In addition, six annual plenary meetings are held at different locations. The group is also involved in educational activities and provides information and support to cancer patients. GOCS has published more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and collaborates with the Oncology Institute of Bari, Italy.
The Argentine Intergroup for the Treatment of Gastrointestinal Tumors (Intergrupo Argentino para Tratamiento de Tumores Gastrointestinales, or IATTGI [www.iattgi.org]) is a cooperative group from Argentina dedicated to care, research, and teaching related to gastrointestinal tumors. This nonprofit organization was founded in 1983 and is constituted by gastroenterology, surgery, radiology, radiotherapy, pathology, oncology, and palliative care researchers.
IATTGI participates in clinic trials through the recruitment of patients from different institutions of Argentina, working in clinical research with pharmaceutical industry funding and on some independent research projects. The group has published more than 30 studies in peer-reviewed journals.
Founded in 2007, the Argentine Group for Clinical Research in Oncology (Grupo Argentino de Investigación Clínica en Oncología, or GAICO [www.gaico.org.ar]) is composed of 15 cooperating groups and includes various health professionals from public and private institutions.
The group designs and develops clinical research studies, whether investigator-initiated or in collaboration with academic institutions and the pharmaceutical industry.
GAICO also has disease committees, provides training for its members, and releases standard operating procedures. It collaborates with regional and international societies (GECOPERU, BIG, and CIBOMA, among others) and organizes an annual meeting. ■