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Gloria Pacual, associate researcher at IRB Barcelona, received the award yesterday in a presentation ceremony held in Madrid (Photo: Pfizer Foundation).

Gloria Pascual receives a Scientific Innovation Award from the Pfizer Foundation

Gloria Pascual, associate researcher at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) in the Barcelona Science Park, has been awarded a Scientific Innovation Prize from the Pfizer Foundation, within the 'Basic Research' category. Her work  paves the way to tackle various kinds of metastatic cancer.


The study ‘Targeting metastasis-initiating cells through the fatty acid receptor CD36’, published in the journal Nature (Doi: 10.1038/nature20791) and headed by IRB Barcelona’s Stem Cells and Cancer lab, has identified a subpopulation of cells that are responsible for the development of metastasis. The main conclusion drawn from the work is that only cancer cells that express the protein CD36 on their surface have the capacity to colonize and grow in other organs.

“This protein is a fatty acid receptor, and we have discovered that, during metastasis, cells that have this molecule use lipids from their microenvironment, thus conferring them the capacity to migrate to and grow in distant organs,” explains the scientist.

Thanks to this discovery, the researchers have been able to use monoclonal antibodies that target CD36, obtaining good results in animals. “Using this anti-CD36 treatment, we have been able to inhibit the onset of metastasis in mice with a primary tumour but that have not yet developed metastasis,” concludes Gloria Pascual.

Acknowledgement of scientific progress

This year’s awards, each worth €10,000, mark the 20th year in which the Pfizer Foundation has acknowledged scientific progress in the fields of life sciences in the categories “Basic Research” and “Clinical Research”. The other prize was given to Belén Gutiérrez-Gutiérrez, from the Hospital Virgen Macarena in Seville, for her work on multi-resistant bacteria.

Both scientists received their prizes yesterday in a presentation ceremony held in Madrid.