Skip to main content
< Back to news
ICREA researchers Samuel Sánchez and Salvador Aznar Benitah (Credits: IBEC/IRB Barcelona).

Samuel Sánchez and Salvador Aznar receive an ERC Proof of Concept grant

Two ICREA researchers from the PCB Community, Samuel Sánchez from IBEC, and Salvador Aznar Benitah from IRB Barcelona, have obtained an ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) grant, valued at €150,000 each. These grants, awarded by the European Research Council (ERC), allow grantees to assess the feasibility and knowledge transfer potential of a research project.

Samuel Sánchez, ICREA research professor at IBEC, where he leads the Smart nano-bio-devices group, has obtained an ERC-PocC grant to carry out the “MucOncoBots” project, which aims to use nanobots to transport a specialized drug for the treatment of peritoneal pseudomyxoma (PMP), the most notable type of mucinous tumor known.  The development of this novel therapy could also have a positive impact in addressing other conditions where the mucosal barrier obstructs effective therapeutic intervention. These pathologies include approximately 15% of colorectal tumors and 5% of lung tumors, among others. Furthermore, this therapy could find applications in treating chronic inflammatory lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis, where the mucus barrier also poses a significant challenge for the effective drug administration.

This project, in which IBEC PhD student Meritxell Serra-Casablancas collaborates, will be conducted in a close collaboration with the research team of Dr. Héctor G. Palmer, who leads the Stem Cells and Cancer group at the Vall d’Hebron Cancer Research Institute (VHIO). Additionally, the project will benefit from the medical advice and expertise of Dr. Elena Élez, the head of the VHIO Colorectal Cancer group and a medical oncologist at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (VHUV). For further information: IBEC wesite [+]

The PalmitoMET project -led by ICREA research professor Dr. Salvador Aznar Benitah, group leader of the Stem Cells and Cancer lab at IRB Barcelona- has also been backed with another ERC Proof of Concept grant. This project aims to develop novel drugs that block the effect of palmitic acid metabolism once palmitate has entered the metastatic cells, as a potential therapy for metastatic cancer patients.

This project is aimed at exploring a new therapeutic target focused on fatty acid metabolism in metastasis, discovered by Dr. Miguel Martín-Pérez during his postdoctoral work at Dr. Salvador Aznar’s lab. A growing body of evidence highlights the significance of lipids in the development of metastatic tumours. Therefore, this novel therapeutic approach aimed at targeting pathways activated by lipids could prove a promising and untapped avenue for effectively combating cancer metastasis.

Experiments carried out at the Drug Screening Platform at IRB Barcelona will address the potential of enzymes responsible for increased palmitic acid metabolism as antimetastatic therapies. For further information: IRB Barcelona website [+]