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11/11/2021

Two VHIR projects receive a grant from the AECC for their advances in cancer research

Fernanda da Silva i Eva Colàs

11/11/2021

The AECC Research Grants for 2021 will drive the research headed by Dr Fernanda da Silva and Dr Eva Colás.

The Spanish Association Against Cancer distributed its Research Grants for 2021 during an event held at its headquarters in Barcelona. In total, there were 186 projects and nearly €20 million has been distributed to continue advancing the research into cancer with a patient centred approach and to continue increasing survival from cancer. Among the projects being promoted, there are two that are being carried out at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), headed by Fernanda da Silva and Dr Eva Colás.

The following doctors participated in the award ceremony: Dr Laureano Molins, Deputy Chairman of the Spanish Association Against Cancer and Chairman of the Association in Barcelona, and Isabel Orbe, general manager of the Scientific Foundation of the Association and its winning researchers: Dr Fernanda da Silva Andrade, of the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute, Dr Antoni Castells, of the Clínic Foundation for Biomedical Research and Dr Immaculada Martínez-Rovira, of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).

After the ceremony to awards the grants, the researchers participated in a roundtable during which they offered their view regarding the need to continue research into cancer and the importance of receiving support from entities such as the Spanish Association Against Cancer.

Directed nanomedicines for treating multiform glyoblastomas

Thanks to the AECC 2021 grant of €200,000, Dr Fernanda da Silva will work on a new therapeutic strategy based on nanotechnology for treating glioblastoma multiforme, one of the most aggressive brain cancers currently demonstrating a great deal of resistance to treatments, causing relapses.

One of the difficulties in treating this type of tumour is that the brain is protected by the hematoencephalic barrier, which prevents drugs from reaching the area. Due to their small size, the nanoparticles are capable of passing through the barrier and acting as a vehicle to transport specific anti-tumour drugs. Furthermore, it is possible to change the surface of the nanoparticles so that they specifically recognise cancer stem cells, responsible for the resistance against treatments. “Using this knowledge, researchers will be able to develop a more efficient treatment based on the use of nanoparticles”, explains Dr da Silva.

Personalised and non-invasive diagnostic test for Endometrial cancer

Dr Eva Colàs has received an ERA PerMed Grant for the development of a molecular diagnostic kit for endometrial cancer which analyses the expression protein biomarker signatures in uterine fluid. This new system simplifies the process, accelerating the result and reducing its cost. It is a grant which is co-funded by the AECC and the ISCIII for the project in which six European centres are participating.

Endometrial cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. Therefore, as confirmed by Dr Colàs, “a screening tool would allow a precise diagnosis to be made during the first consultation and favour an early diagnosis, which translates into a reduction in the fatality rate of patients”.

Other grants received by the Vall d’Hebron Campus

The grants received from the AECC by the Vall d’Hebron Campus also include four grants for developing projects by the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), which will be overseen by Dr Isabel Puig, Dr Carolina Ortiz and Dr Enrique Javier Arenas, as well as the Student Training Clinic AECC 2021 Student Training Clinic 2021 by Dr Mara Cruellas, of the Cancer Genetic Group overseen by Dr Judith Balmaña. The projects seek to develop a new anti-tumour treatment that is more efficient against relapses, investigating the analysis of free circulating tumour DNA in mother’s milk for the early detection of breast cancer associated with pregnancy and finding new combination strategies that overcome the resistance of the tumour cells when attacking the immune system.

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