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AECC backs cancer research involving 3D models at IRB Barcelona

4 Mar 20




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Headed by Eduard Batlle, the project will allow researchers to study the complexity and heterogeneity of cancer using culturable mini-cancers, also known as organoids, derived from patients.

The international ACCELERATOR call funds projects that allow research results to reach cancer patients faster.

The Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC- Spanish Association Against Cancer) has awarded more than €500,000 euros of funding to an IRB Barcelona project that will focus on examining the complexity and heterogeneity of cancer by means of 3D imaging and patient-derived organoids. The study involves the Colorectal Cancer Lab, headed by Eduard Batlle, ICREA researcher and a CIBERONC member, and the Advanced Digital Microscopy Platform, managed by Julien Colombelli.

Organoids, which are mini-cancers that can be cultured in the lab, will be used to undertake an analysis of individual cells. The project seeks to study and optimize cell culture techniques and sample preparation, as well as to identify which cells can be killed by chemotherapy and which ones develop resistance to treatment. This work will enhance knowledge of cancer biology and pave the way for the development of better research tools and also new drugs.  


ACCELERATOR, international funding with Spanish presence

ACCELERATOR grants aim to help results to reach cancer patients faster, as well to foster the collaboration of Spanish researchers in European projects. In its last funding call, the AECC, in collaboration with Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and the Fondazione AIRC per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC), through ACCELERATOR grants, has channelled a total of €32.7 M into seven cancer research projects. 

Several other Spanish projects have also received funding. Among the projects awarded is a study devoted to mesothelioma, an uncommon lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, headed by Dr. Manel Esteller, and a study by Dr. Héctor Palmer, addressing a rare tumour called pseudomyxoma peritonei, which in most cases starts in the appendix, spreads through different parts of the peritoneal cavity and causes numerous relapses after surgery.


AECC devotes €3.1 M for research into rare types of cancer 

In Europe, more than 4.3 million people are affected by a rare cancer—a figure that accounts for 24% of all cancer cases. More than 40,000 new cases of rare cancer are diagnosed in Spain each year, which implies 1 in every 5 cancer diagnoses. Aware of this scenario, the AECC has devoted €3.1 M in the most recent call to support research projects tackling rare types of cancer.

In addition to having a low incidence, rare diseases are characterised by a lack of research efforts. Patients with rare tumours have a lower survival rate than those with more prevalent tumours, thereby highlighting the need to promote international research in order to achieve the prompt identification of new therapeutic targets.


About IRB Barcelona

Created in 2005 by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) and University of Barcelona, IRB Barcelona is a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a seal that was awarded in 2011. The institute is devoted to conducting research of excellence in biomedicine and to transferring results to clinical practice, thus improving people’s quality of life, while simultaneously promoting the training of outstanding researchers, technology transfer, and public communication of science. Its 27 laboratories and eight core facilities address basic questions in biology and are orientated to diseases such as cancer, metastasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and rare conditions. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 employees and more than 30 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona is a CERCA center, and a member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).