Skip to main content
< Back to news
Photo: Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC).

IBEC and NEN Association join forces against childhood neuroblastoma

The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), based in the Barcelona Science Park, has signed a collaboration agreement with NEN Association (Association of Family and Friends of Children with Neuroblastoma) to search new therapeutic markers for this disease, through the generation of models based on engineering techniques. The project will be led by Dr Aranzazu Vilasante, IBEC researcher.

The signing ceremony was attended by Joaquín Molí, president of NEN Association; Josep Samitier, IBEC director; David Badia, IBEC managing director and the project scientific leader, Dr Aranzazu Vilasante.

Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, the nerve network that sends messages from the brain to the rest of the body. It is the most common tumour during the first 2 years of life. In total, neuroblastoma represents 8-10% of paediatric tumours.

Because neuroblastoma varies widely from patient to patient, there is a need for more effective models and therapies for its study and treatment. However, the difficulty of faithfully replicating the complex environment of human cancer is a critical barrier to understanding the mechanisms underlying the progression of this disease and, furthermore, makes it difficult to evaluate targeted cancer therapies.

In the case of neuroblastoma, the vascularization of the tumour plays a crucial role in regulating tumour growth, but it adds another factor of complexity to its study and the search for solutions.

In this context, the IBEC researcher, Dr Aranzazu Vilasante developed in 2017 the first model of vascularized human neuroblastoma, using cancer engineering techniques, which is capable of recapitulating in vitro vasculogenic mimicry and the presence of a cell type known as TEC.

» For further information: IBEC website [+]