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Top Row: Dr. Abel González-Pérez, Dra. Núria López-Bigas and Jordi Deu; Bottom Row: Dra. Olivia Tort and Dr. Santiago Demajo (Photo: IRB Barcelona).

The EU backs a project at IRB Barcelona to expand tumour genome interpretation

A project led by IRB Barcelona, based in PCB, has been awarded a funding of €10 M by the European Commission to implement and systematise tumour genome interpretation for clinical decision-making, thereby allowing medical doctors to choose the most effective treatment. 17 different types of European organisations participate in the consortium, which offer complementary expertise to address the implementation of personalised cancer medicine from all angles.

Cancer is increasingly prevalent in society and the efforts of the research community, doctors and administrations to find solutions to this disease are huge. However, it cannot be treated in a uniform way, as there are more than 200 types of cancer. In addition, the disease in each patient is unique, because the mutations that give rise to the development of each of the tumors are different in each case.

Dr. Núria López-Bigas, ICREA researcher and head of the Biomedical Genomics lab at IRB Barcelona, is leading a European project that seeks to interpret the profiles of mutations in a specific tumour so that medical doctors can choose the most appropriate treatment for each patient. The platform that analyses potential susceptibilities of each tumour is called Cancer Genome Interpreter and it uses machine-learning and other computational methods to systematically extract information from mutations observed in thousands of tumours—28,000 tumours from 66 types of cancer analysed to date—to improve the interpretation of the variants observed in each patient.

Image created with (Source: IRB Barcelona).


“The Cancer Genome Interpreter, which we have been working on for more than five years, has immense potential and, through this project, we intend to optimise it for its use in hospitals and healthcare centres. We want it to be a key instrument to support the decision-making by clinical oncologists, so that each patient, regardless of the hospital in which the diagnosis is made, receives the most appropriate treatment,” explains Dr. López-Bigas.

Spanning five years, the project has been awarded a funding of €10 M by the European Commission, which has greatly valued its main aim: to provide an answer to an unmet medical need. The European Commission has also highlighted the quality of the platform, the expertise of the partners, and the solid implementation plan presented.

IRB Barcelona will be collaborating with 17 different types of European organisations, including the European Cancer Patient Coalition and the Spanish Association Against Cancer, which will promote the active participation of cancer patients in this research. Regarding research centres, in addition to IRB Barcelona, the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG), based in the Barcelona Science Park, is participating in the project.

» For further information: IRB Barcelona website [+]