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Today, AECC has held an institutional act in Barcelona chaired by Her Majesty the Queen, who has presented a total of 7.9 million euros to 34 researchers (Photo: AECC).

IRB Barcelona and IBMB-CSIC have been presented with funding from AECC for cancer research

Jelena Urosevic and Carles Barceló, postdoctoral fellows at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), and Elisa Martí Gorostiza, researcher at the Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona (IBMB-CSIC) –both located at the Barcelona Science Park–  have officially been presented with funding over 5 years from the Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC) for their respective research projects on cancer.


This morning the AECC has held an institutional act in Barcelona chaired by Her Majesty the Queen, honorary president of the AECC and its scientific foundation, who has presented a total of 7.9 million euros to 34 researchers (22 projects).

IRB Barcelona projects

Carles Barceló is a scientist in the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory, headed by ICREA researcher Eduard Batlle. Barceló’s project focuses on studying the colon cancer stem cells responsible for the initiation and progression of the tumour. His research line seeks to identify new mechanisms of tumour stem cells under the specific control of given oncogenes and thereby allow researchers to design therapies aimed to interfere with tumour development.

Jelena Urosevic works in the Cancer Growth and Metastasis Laboratory, run  by ICREA researcherRoger Gomis. Urosevic concentrates on the metastases caused by colon cancer in the liver and lung. The project seeks to identify, within a family of proteins called phosphatases, those that are regulated by the metastatic process in colon cancer.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women worldwide. Spain reports 32,000 new cases each year, thus making this disease the most common in this country. The 5-year survival rate is currently 64%.

Many of the current therapeutic strategies are effective in eliminating the primary tumour; however, 50% of the patients develop another tumour, which is resistant to conventional treatment. Barceló says “in my project we attempt to elucidate how mutations in a tumour modulate the activity of the stem cells that generate the tumour”. The objective is to discover how certain drugs targeted to oncogenes act directly on stem cells to remove them.

Jelena Urosevic explains that most colon cancer deaths are caused by metastases in vital organs such as the liver and lung. “The objectives of the project include better understanding the metastatic process, identifying new therapeutic targets and searching for compounds that can trigger metastatic cell death”.

The project of IBMB-CSIC and the FBG

The project on neuroblastoma led by Elisa Martí Gorostiza, a researcher at IBMB CSIC and the Catalan Biotechnology Reference Network (XRB), has received one of the three grants for research projects on childhood cancer funded by the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC). The € 150,000 grant, obtained with the collaboration of the XRB, will be managed by the FBG.

Neuroblastoma is the most common childhood cancer during the first year of infancy and presents a low cure rate (below 40%) in high-risk cases. It originates in the transient embryonic cells of the neural crest, and its clinical course is unique and enigmatic. 

Research has led the team of Elisa Martí to identify Neurexophilin-1 (NXPH1), a protein secreted by the neuroblastoma that shows a very distinct behaviour depending on the risk category of the cancer and the type of neural crest cells (migratory or non-migratory). Thanks to the grant from the AECC, the team at the IBMB-CSIC will study the protein’s expression in neuroblastoma stem cells in order to design specific strategies to improve diagnosis, and search for more effective treatments.