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Dr. Cristina Mayor-Ruiz participates in a Cancer Grand Challenges project to apply targeted protein degradation against various types of pediatric tumours




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•    Cancer Grand Challenges is to fund five new global research teams tackling some of the toughest challenges posed by cancer: cancer inequalities, early-onset cancers, solid tumours in children, and T-cell receptors.
•    Dr. Cristina Mayor-Ruiz is part of one of the five beneficiary consortia, the "PROTECT" team. This international consortium will develop protein-degrading drugs against various types of pediatric tumours.
•    Contra el Cáncer Association, through its Scientific Foundation, is participating in Cancer Grand Challenges, the largest global funding initiative, founded by Cancer Research UK and the US National Cancer Institute. The Association will contribute €595,980 over five years to this project.

Cancer Grand Challenges is the largest global funding initiative. Founded by Cancer Research UK and the US National Cancer Institute and involving the participation of Contra el Cáncer Association (through its Scientific Foundation), this initiative seeks to drive major international cancer research projects and funding. In its most recent call for project proposals, Cancer Grand Challenges has awarded funding to five new international research teams to tackle some of cancer's toughest challenges: cancer inequalities, early-onset cancers, solid tumours in children, and T-cell receptors.

Each team will receive up to $25 million over five years and will bring together interdisciplinary scientists from around the world to accelerate research into cancer. Among them is Dr. Cristina Mayor-Ruiz, head of the Protein Degradation and Drug Discovery lab at IRB Barcelona and a researcher supported by the Association.

Dr. Mayor-Ruiz is part of the international PROTECT team, a consortium of research groups from 10 institutions focused on developing new treatments for childhood cancers based on protein-degrading drugs, responding to a need among patients and families as there are currently no effective therapies against many of these conditions. Contra el Cáncer Association will contribute €595,980 to this project.

Over the next five years, Dr. Mayor-Ruiz and her team will align multiple disciplines to develop protein-degrading drugs against pediatric tumours, thus offering hope to children and their families. This is not the first time the Association has supported Dr. Mayor-Ruiz's research. The entity will continue to support her to contribute to a significant global challenge, which is to achieve effective treatments for childhood cancers.

In the last three decades, the survival rates for children with solid tumours, including brain tumours, have stalled, making these types of cancer the leading cause of death in this age group. To achieve higher cure rates, innovative interventions are required that specifically target the unique biology of these tumours, which are often difficult to attack with conventional drugs.

In its commitment to supporting cancer research, Contra el Cáncer Association  has already participated in past Cancer Grand Challenges, contributing €2.5 M to another of these international projects, namely that led by Dr. Nuria López-Bigas, ICREA Research Professor at IRB Barcelona.

Cancer research — a priority for the Association

In 2023, Contra el Cáncer Association, through its Scientific Foundation, awarded 233 research grants totalling €29.4 M to help achieve the goal of surpassing 70% survival in cancer. Added to the grants awarded in previous years, the Association currently contributes more than €114 M to 603 ongoing projects and it is the social and private entity that allocates the most funds to cancer research.

Through these grants, the Association supports talented scientists throughout their entire careers and promotes research on all types of cancer and all stages of the disease. Moreover, to accelerate the transfer of research findings to patients, innovation has been encouraged, with grants like the new AECC IMPACT call, which seeks to turn research advances into tangible results, and research in clinical settings, highlighted by two grants amounting to €1 M each for conducting academic clinical studies.

About IRB Barcelona

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to cure cancer and other diseases linked to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society, and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 researchers and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).