The Chest Center: a center of excellence for thoracic cancers
In addition to providing an innovative course of care for lung cancer patients, the Curie-Montsouris Chest Center, together with all medical providers and researchers at Institut Curie, plans to develop individualized approaches for all stages of care, from initial diagnosis to immunotherapy treatments.
What are the goals of the Curie-Montsouris Chest Center?
Nicolas Girard: the Curie-Montsouris Chest Center aims to improve the care and treatment of patients with chest diseases. Treatments for chest tumors are becoming increasingly personalized and require the expertise of multi-disciplinary teams. By bringing together all the skills required for the overall care of lung cancer, as well as tumors of the pleura and the mediastinum, at Institut Curie and the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, the Chest Center ensures that all patients have access to innovation at all stages of the disease, from screening and diagnosis to treatment and follow-up.
Patients also have access to the medical environment of both structures and a cutting-edge technical platform for medical imaging, biopathology and radiotherapy.
How will the creation of the Curie-Montsouris Chest Center help patients?
NG: The Curie-Montsouris Chest Center aims to accelerate access to the latest innovations for as many patients as possible, and in parallel to intensify research efforts.
Among chest tumors, lung cancer is probably the cancer that has most benefitted from the most significant innovations of recent years. For early tumors, the minimally-invasive surgical techniques developed at the IMM help reduce the scope of the surgery and thus the potential postoperative effects. If this therapeutic option is not possible, stereotaxic radiotherapy guided by a very high-precision image, which has long been practiced at Institut Curie, may be offered.
For the most advanced forms, targeted therapies, and more recently immunotherapy, help to prolong patient survival with less toxicity. In addition there has been great progress in general oncology, such as new endoscopic or image-guided sampling techniques, liquid biopsies and high-throughput sequencing.
In addition to the development of clinical research and early trials, the Chest Center will be developing translational research. To achieve this Institut Curie has the benefit of a dedicated department with considerable experience, the implementation of the immunotherapy center, the biological resource center and the clinical investigation center, thus facilitating access to early trials.
In terms of basic and translational research, what do you think the future holds?
NG: Without a doubt, immunotherapy seems to be the most promising treatment. Although the anti-PD1 and anti-PD-L1 antibodies have proven effective in treating non-small cell lung cancer, only 10 to 45% of patients respond to these therapies. The teams at the Chest Center and at Institut Curie’s immunotherapy center are looking at the reasons for these failures, but also at the immune response of patients throughout their illness. This is only possible when there is close proximity between a research center and a hospital. The immunologists at Institut Curie are analyzing the immune system in real time, its reactions and its specificities in patients with tumors from the early stage up to the metastatic stage. This is a vital step in the transition to a new generation of immunotherapy, personalized according to each tumor and above all to each patient. Other avenues are also explored, in particular the possibilities of combining antibodies with other immunomodulators to achieve more effective therapy. With this array of skills the Curie-Montsouris Chest Center is able to position itself as a center of excellence in the treatment of chest diseases.
Find out more about Prof Nicolas Girard
Prof Nicolas Girard joined Institut Curie on 1 June 2017 as coordinator of the Curie-Montsouris Chest Center. A pneumologist specializing in thoracic oncology, he is responsible for the organization, operation and development of this center of excellence dedicated to chest diseases.
He is Professor at the University of Lyon, specializing in thoracic oncology, and is involved in several clinical research programs that assess new strategies for the treatment of lung cancer and rare chest tumors. He is the associate manager of the national network dedicated to the treatment of cancer of the thymus - known as RYTHMIC - and of the European network for rare adult solid cancer (EURACAN) for rare chest tumors.