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Panamanian Researcher Gerald Moncayo in the Fight Against Cancer

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Panama Fights Cancer
Rella Rosenshain 15 Apr 2017 - 00: 05h

Scientist Gerald Moncayo is promoting a project that seeks to form a working group on cancer. Panama Fights Cancer
Rella Rosenshain Apr 15 2017 - 00: 05h

Scientist Gerald Moncayo is promoting a project that seeks to form a working group on cancer.

For the Panamanian-Austrian Gerald Moncayo, a researcher in immunology and oncology, the union is the force. And in matters of health, the more specialists involved, the better.

Therefore, it promotes a project that aims to form a working group on cancer, in order to convince more researchers and doctors to do research on cancer in Panama.

"We already have partners in the Ministry of Health, the University of South Florida, the Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, and the Santo Tomás Hospital, the Children's Hospital, the National Oncology Institute and the Social Security Fund . We already have geneticists, pathologists, surgeons, oncologists, epidemiologists and hematologists who have offered us their help. We want to analyze not only paraffin tumors, but also fresh ones, and to study them. "

The scientist says he would also like to get more involved with biology, pharmacy and medical students, and physicians to encourage research.

"Many resident doctors and specialists do research, but many only stay [presenting their results] at conferences and are not published. We have many smart minds, interesting cases and a unique biodiversity. Being able to help make Panama known as an international research hub would be a dream, "says Dr. Moncayo, in an interview with this newspaper.

How might research in the field of immunology help to find more specific and personalized treatments for the different types of existing tumors?

Without the immune system we would always be sick. As it is what allows us to live, it is also the origin of many diseases. It has to be highly regulated. For example, if you get sick, you want your body to react quickly and eliminate the disease, but once it has been eliminated, it has to return to normal.

To understand how the immune system and cancer works, you have to understand what cancer is. It is a cell that acquires mutations. Mutations are modifications in the genetic material. These mutations are what make everyone different. But cancer is a sum of mutations that gives the cell a chance to grow beyond its normal destiny. The more mutations you may have, the more likely you are to be invasive until you have metastasized.

In your opinion, what is the importance of investing budget in health research for the development of the country?

There are several reasons. The first is simply economic. Several studies have reported that investment in research generates economic growth, which would benefit the whole country (...).

Another aspect is that investment in research trains scientific thinking, not only in science, but opens the mind to ask how everything works, and creates innovation (...). Investing in research is investing in the development of students and teachers with critical thinking.

In addition, Panama is a biodiversity hotspot, because many of the drugs currently used come from natural products, so new drugs could be found within this biodiversity.

It is important to invest in health research because the future of medicine is aimed at personalized treatment. And this can only be done with research-educated staff.



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