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The Spanish Association Against Cancer awards funding to five projects at IRB Barcelona

25 Sep 18




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The projects address breast, lung, colon, prostate and melanoma cancer.

Yesterday, in a ceremony held in Madrid, the Spanish Association Against Cancer (Asociación Española contra el Cáncer (AECC)) announced the scientific projects and researchers who have been awarded funding for the next few years—among them five cancer researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

Eduard Batlle, Roger Gomis, Marta Kovatcheva, Angel R. Nebreda and Francesc Posas are among the awardees of the AECC grants. They will undertake studies focused on colon, prostate, lung, melanoma and breast cancer, respectively.

The five projects fall into one of the following three funding categories of the charity organisation: individual research projects (AECC projects), coordinated clinical research projects (Coordinated translational groups), and projects associated with postdoctoral fellowships (AECC Postdoc).

A- AECC Projects. 3 years of funding

The projects headed by Eduard Batlle, Angel R. Nebreda and Francesc Posas fall into the “individual research projects” category.

Colon cancer metastasis. Eduard Batlle

Eduard Batlle, ICREA researcher and member of the CIBERONC network, aims to develop new treatments to cure patients with metastatic colon cancer. Each year 1,700,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed worldwide. More than 60% of these cases are diagnosed with advanced stage disease and are at risk of developing metastasis. The researchers in the Colorectal Cancer Lab have developed a sophisticated experimental model that allows them to study the interaction between the immune system and the tumour. This model will serve to speed up the introduction into clinical practice of treatments based on boosting the immune system response to cancer cells.

Melanoma metastasis. Angel R. Nebreda

The study by ICREA researcher Angel R. Nebreda focuses on determining the importance of the protein p38 in myeloid cells (a type of cell that belongs to the immune system) in the growth of primary melanoma and metastasis of the melanoma to the lung. The researchers will also perform pre-clinical studies using mouse models of melanoma to validate the potential of p38 inhibitors to strengthen the immune system and thus to treat metastatic melanoma. This project could t benefit patients with advanced melanoma. Metastatic melanomas account for 2% of malignant tumours and the number of cases reported is increasing by 10% each year.

Resistance in breast cancer. Francesc Posas

About 20% of patients with luminal breast cancer relapse in the first ten years, and patients with metastasis have an expected survival of 30 months. One of the key steps in cancer development is the loss of activity of the retinoblastoma (RB) tumour suppressor. Led by Francesc Posas, director of IRB Barcelona, head of the Cell Signalling Lab at the same centre, and professor of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, this project aims to further the development of new therapeutic tools for breast cancer and to overcome resistance to current treatments. The lab, which is co-headed by the scientist Eulàlia de Nadal, will study a new mechanism of RB regulation with the aim to determine the impact of this mechanism in breast cancer and will test new compounds that mimic the capacity of this mechanism to block cancer cell division.

B- Coordinated translational groups. 5 years of funding

Resistance and metastasis in prostate cancer. Roger Gomis

The team headed by ICREA researcher Roger Gomis, who is also a member of the CIBERONC network, will participate in a translational project coordinated by Arkaitz Carracedo at CIC bioGUNE and involving five multidisciplinary groups. Gomis will be providing the project with expertise in the study of the genetic and molecular bases of metastasis.

Metastatic prostate cancer is the second cause of death among men, and treatment of this condition continues to be an unmet medical need. A third of patients with fatal prostate cancer in the first world develop metastatic prostate cancer from the onset, and this condition is differentiated from primary prostate cancer. The project intends to analyse in depth the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of metastasis in a context which is not affected by castration or other anti-tumour treatments.

C- AECC Postdoc. 3 years of funding

Resistance in lung cancer. Marta Kovatcheva

Marta Kovatcheva, postdoctoral researcher in Manuel Serrano’s lab at IRB Barcelona, is conducting research into how to prevent the lung cancer relapse after treatment. Kovatcheva is studying a small group of cells—called cancer stem cells—with the capacity to reproduce the tumour. The project seeks to identify new treatments to eliminate these cells, thereby preventing their persistence and proliferation.

The scientist hopes that the results from this research will decrease the risk of patient relapse after treatment.

IRB Barcelona, acknowledged by the AECC

In May 2018, IRB Barcelona was acknowledged by the Scientific Foundation of the AECC for its research of excellence and for fulfilling the strategic requirements of the organisation.  This acknowledgement allows IRB Barcelona to apply for a greater number of subsidies than those centres without this recognition and the possibility to participate in specific calls organised by the Scientific Foundation of the AECC.

Find out about our Metastasis Challenge, bringing society together to support research into metastasis.


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).