Mapping tumour development

The scientist Roger Gomis receives funding from the “la Caixa” Foundation for a project devoted to metastatic breast cancer.

Roger Gomis, ICREA researcher at the  Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), and head of the Growth Control and Cancer Metastasis lab, has been awarded funding from the “la Caixa” Foundation to develop the project “Metastasis Cell Fate Mapping” over the next three years (2018-2021).

Today this organisation has announced the projects awarded in its first “Health Research”, call, an initiative that provides a total of 12,000,000 € of funding. Under this call, each project headed by a single institute receives 500,000€, while those undertaken by a consortium are granted 1,000,000 €.

Metastatic breast cancer

Metastasis is the main cause of death in patients with breast cancer. The most prevalent tumour in this disease is the luminal subtype—commonly hormone receptor-positive—and it accounts for 80% of all breast cancer cases.

One of the hallmarks of this type of cancer is its long period of dormancy after treatment. This implies that the tumour can come back after a lengthy period without symptoms.

“We are starting to understand this process at the molecular level but we are still far from being able to tackle it,” explains Roger Gomis, who recently published a paper in Nature Cell Biology revealing a breakthrough related to the capacity of breast cancer cells to become dormant.

The IRB Barcelona project aims to map tumour cells in order to determine how they adapt to treatment, in other words, which cells promote growth, dissemination, latency, metastasis and resistance to treatment.

The results will shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying metastasis and drug resistance and will help to identify novel therapeutic targets for the design of new drugs.

The final objective of the project is to improve the clinical management of patients with breast cancer and thus prevent future relapse.


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