Taking up the challenge of metastasis

Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer from one place in the body to another. This process causes 90% of deaths from cancer, making it one of the most relevant public health challenges today. Cancer is a disease that affects our entire society, and as such, society as a whole must come together to find the cure. It was under this premise that IRB Barcelona, in collaboration with ESADE Business School, brought together key figures from the research, business and innovation, and private sectors to learn about the state of the art in metastasis research, debate the power that business and innovation hold to accelerate cures, and outline future challenges.

"Metastasis challenge: from research to social impact" was held on 14 March at ESADE Business School, following the 3-day Barcelona Biomed Conference supported by BBVA Foundation on the Mechanisms of Metastasis. Deputy director of ESADE, Francisco Longo, and IRB Barcelona director, Joan J. Guinovart, opened the event by acknowledging the powerful potential that bringing together different sectors of our society holds in the fight against cancer. Their introductions gave way to a brief summary of the most promising scientific advances that the more than 150 researchers at IRB Barcelona working on metastasis have made in recent months. ICREA researchers Roger Gomis, Salvador Aznar Benitah and Eduard Batlle commented on the discoveries made in their respective labs, including breakthroughs in the origin of metastases, where and when they develop in function of the original tumour, and how to prevent and treat them with therapies such as immunotherapy.

The scientific highlights were followed by a round table discussion on how to use tech transfer and innovation can be used to ensure that basic cancer research has a positive impact on society. Panelists included: Montserrat Vendrell, partner of Alta Life Sciences; Manel Peiró, director of the Institute for Healthcare Management at ESADE Business School; Andreu Mas-Colell, president of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST); and Roger Gomis, founder of the IRB Barcelona spin-off Inbiomotion, a company devoted to the development of biomarkers to predict bone metastases. Oriol Alcoba, director general of ESADECREAPOLIS, chaired the session.

World-renowned metastasis expert and director of the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York, Joan Massagué, closed the event, reminding participants of the critical importance of basic research, without which clinicians would not have the basis for their therapies and treatments, present or future. He called upon the business and innovation sectors to manifest their commitment to the fight against cancer metastasis.