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Researchers Jordi Alcaraz, Marta Gabasa and Noemí Reguart (Photo: FBG).

The FBG manages a partnership contract between UB, Hospital Clínic and Boehringer to improve the lung cancer treatment

In order to advance the fight against lung cancer, the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona collaborate with Boehringer Ingelheim to look for new ways of nintedanib efficiency, an anti-angiogenic drug for disease treatment. This public-private agreement reflects the commitment of the three organizations involved for quality research on a topic of special emphasis on health such as lung cancer and, in particular squamous carcinoma, which affects about 30% Patients with this type of tumor. The Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG), the Technology Transfer Office of the UB located at PCB, has managed the partnership contract.


Nintedanib is a drug that has shown great efficacy in patients with advanced lung adenocarcinoma. Its mechanism of action is based on inhibition of growth factor receptors, proteins that are produced outside of the cancer cell and, by binding to specific receptors, stimulate tumor growth. “The pulmonary adenocarcinoma is the most common subtype of lung cancer, we need to identify new therapeutic options in the context of a second line of treatment,” explains Dr. Noemí Reguart. “This is an oral drug with very good tolerance and in recent clinical studies has shown that combined with chemotherapy increases survival as a second-line treatment,” she adds.

This study goes a step further and investigates its effectiveness in squamous cell carcinoma, so it will use new preclinical cell crops models, unique in Spain, that allow interaction between the two most abundant cell types used in cancer: cancer cells and fibroblasts, a type of healthy cells that surround them. The main objective of the project is to find what kind of cells within the tumor are more or less sensitive to nintedanib, to better define which patients can benefit from this drug. “Today we know that fibroblasts are involved in all stages of tumor progression, since its inception, growth, invasion, metastasis and even resistance to therapies,” explains Dr. Jordi Alcaraz. “We will use this preclinical model of crops to reproduce more faithfully the cellular microenvironment and explore how to make cells resistant to respond to nintedanib”.

This preclinical research is the prior stage before the application to the cancer patient. “The introduction of new targeted therapies such as nintedanib in the treatment of lung cancer, has been a breakthrough in the treatment of this disease,” says Dr. Noemí Reguart. “Nintedanib* is the second antiangiogenic drug that gets approval from the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of advanced lung cancer and will soon be available in all national hospitals as a new treatment option.” “With this project, we aim to identify the mechanisms of tumor resistance to nintedanib* to allows us expand the clinical benefit to a wide range of patients with lung cancer,” he added.