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08/02/2016 - Institutional news

AECC funds IMIM and Hospital del Mar project on possible new biomarker for prostate and bladder cancer

Source: AECC

On February 4, to coincide with World Cancer Day, the AECC-Catalunya contra el Càncer, presented their Cancer Research Grants 2015 at the Drassanes Reials in Barcelona, in a ceremony attended by more than 400 people from the worlds of politics and business, as well as the general public. In this edition the AECC presented a total of €120,000 to six projects by emerging Catalan teams looking at colon cancer, leukaemia, brain tumours, gastrointestinal stromal tumours and prostate and bladder cancer.

The winners include a project entitled: “Clinical implications of galectin-1 expression in genitourinary cancer: its role in diagnosis, prognosis and response prediction with immune check point inhibitors”, led by Pilar Navarro, coordinator of the Molecular Mechanisms of Tumorigenesis research group at the IMIM and Alejo Rodríguez-Vida, an oncologist at the Hospital del Mar. Nine other basic and clinical researchers from the IMIM and Hospital del Mar are also taking part: Joaquim Bellmunt, Josep Lloreta, Nuria Juanpere, Neus Martinez-Bosch, Ana Rovira, Federico Rojo, Mireia Moreno, Anna Hernández, and Silvia Menendez.

The two-year project is aimed at identifying a possible new biomarker, galectin-1, for diagnosising and predicting treatment response for the two most frequent genitourinary cancers that also have the worst prognosis: prostate and bladder cancer. The protein galectin-1 is detected at high levels in these cancers, favouring the evasion of the anti-tumour immune response and tumour progression. “Our hypothesis is that finding galectin-1 in the blood of patients suffering prostate or bladder cancer could be of great help in the early detection of these tumours, as well as in predicting treatment response”, the researchers explain.

For this reason, they will analyse the levels of this protein in the blood of healthy individuals and those with tumours, as well as during patient care, focusing particularly on immunotherapy treatments to see if galectin-1 levels can be used in the early diagnosis of the disease and/or predict the therapeutic response. If the results are positive, this study will lay the groundwork for the possible design of galectin-1 inhibitors as a new anticancer treatment.

The AECC (Spanish association against cancer), through its science foundation and thanks to the efforts of thousands of people, has become the social and private entity allocating the most funds for research into cancer in Spain. It has managed to increase its financing for research into the disease through a privately funded model that prioritises the quality of a project, the closeness of the link between a study and the patients, and a thorough follow-up of the funds provided.

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