IRB Barcelona receives the support of the ERC to develop a test to predict metastasis of colon and liver cancer


Eduard Batlle, ICREA researcher at IRB Barcelona, will head the project “COLOStage”, which has been awarded European funding for technology transfer.

This “Proof of Concept” call has received applications from 128 projects, 28% of which have been granted funding.

Today the European Research Council (ERC) has announced the “Proof of Concept” awards for 50 European projects. Among those to be granted funding is the project headed by Eduard Batlle, ICREA researcher and leader of the Colorectal Cancer Lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). Batlle and his team have secured 150,000 € for the development of a test to predict metastasis of colon and liver (hepatocellular carcinoma) cancer.

The ERC’s “Proof of Concept” programme is designed to help researchers that already hold ERC funding to test the market potential of their cutting-edge discoveries. Eduard Batlle (Barcelona, 1970) has been the recipient of funding from the ERC since 2007, first through a “Starting Grant” and since last year through an “Advanced Grant”. This new award seeks to cover the expenses related to activities such as establishing intellectual property rights, market studies, business opportunities –for example the set-up of a start-up-, and technical validation, such as clinical trials.

More than 25% of the researchers at IRB receive funding from the ERC. In this regard, the following projects are being developed: four “Advanced”, one “Consolidator”, one “Starting”, and “Proof of Concept”. The total ERC funding for IRB Barcelona projects amounts to over 14 M€.

“COLOStage”: a predictor of metastasis for colon and liver cancer

The “COLOStage project: A new prognosis test for the prediction of metastasis in Colorectal Cancer and Hepatocellular Carcinoma” seeks to develop an innovative test to identify those colon cancer patients with a risk of developing new tumours in the liver and lung, the main organs in which metastases of colon occurs. Such a prognostic test would allow the detection of patients that should receive chemotherapy, thus avoiding unnecessary treatments and optimizing therapeutic resources.

“This new ERC award is the impetus we needed to develop a product with real possibilities. If everything goes as planned, in a couple of years the first test could be ready,” explains  Eduard Batlle. Part of the results on which the “COLOStage” projects is based were published in the science journal Cancer Cell in November 2012.

According to a statement made by the ERC this morning, a total of 182 project proposals were received in the first round of the current call, and the success rate is around 28%. The grants are awarded to researchers working in the EU and in 12 countries associated with the European Research Area. Spain has been allocated six projects, five of which are being undertaken in centres in Catalonia.