Skip to main content

Fonds Gaston Ithier award

Press release (06/03/2020) 

Professor Vincent Donckier wins the Fonds Gaston Ithier award for his collaborative work on oligometastases

Prof. Vincent DonckierBrussels, 6th March, 2020 – This Thursday 5 March, Professor Vincent Donckier, Head of the Department of Surgery at the Jules Bordet Institute, the reference centre in the fight against cancer, is honoured by the Fonds Gaston Ithier. This Fonds, which supports creative projects in the field of oncology, rewards the creation of a multidisciplinary and collaborative platform between different institutions seeking to identify oligometastatic profiles in colorectal cancer.

A multidisciplinary consortium around the concept of oligometastases
In 2018, a multidisciplinary research consortium of members of the Jules Bordet Institute and the Erasmus Hospital at the ULB, the Duve Institute at the UCL, the KUL Translational Research Laboratory into Oncology, the University of Antwerp Research Laboratory into Pathology and Oncology and Milan University's Department of Medical Statistics was founded.  All these specialists (researchers, surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, anatomopathologists, nuclear medicine physicians, biostatisticians, etc.) are studying the concept of oligometastases in colorectal cancer. Oligometastatic cancers are defined as those with a capacity for dissemination at a limited distance, at the origin of a limited number of metastases and at a limited number of secondary sites, as opposed to cancers whose progress in the body is diffuse or systemic. This concept of oligometastatic disease is important because it identifies patients who may be able to benefit from a treatment that targets these metastases, such as surgery. A type of treatment that serves no purpose among patients whose cancer spread is diffuse. At present there is no predictive biomarker of the oligometastatic state of a cancer, which means it is not possible to select patients who would benefit from an initial surgical treatment of the metastases. 

Retrospective analysis to identify oligometastatic colorectal cancers 
Faced with this situation, the consortium proposes a categorisation of patients on the basis of their post-operative development, thanks to an analysis of a database developed in cooperation between the Bordet Institute and the Erasmus Hospital. The retrospective study of these data makes it possible to distinguish two groups among patients operated on for liver metastases of colorectal cancer. On one hand, the "oligometastatic" patients, defined as those with a survival without relapse that is prolonged after surgical resection of the liver metastases (approximately 25% of patients). At the other extreme, "polymetastatic" patents, defined as those with a rapid relapse after surgery and for whom surgery brought no benefits. A comparison between these two groups could reveal biomarker candidates, thanks to an in-depth analysis of the clinical, radiological, anatomopathological, metabolic, immunological and/or molecular criteria and, more particularly, by virtue of the pooling these different parameters. This study pursues two aims. On one hand, to improve the selection of patients for whom a targeted local or locoregional treatment would be effective (surgery, radiotherapy, intra-arterial treatment, etc.) and to limit risk of pointless surgery among polymetastatic patients. On the other hand, to better understand the mechanisms involved in the methods of metastatic progression and, potentially, to develop new diagnostic and treatment approaches.

About the Fonds Gaston Ithier
The Fonds Gaston Ithier has the mission of promoting the fight against cancer and supports creative and original projects in the field of oncology.  Thanks to the Fonds, the consortium, headed by Professor Vincent Donckier, aims to deepen the analyses and open up new horizons in the personalised treatment of metastatic colorectal cancers.    


Vincent Donckier