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The four research groups collaborating in the project.

The Spanish Association Against Cancer awards €1.2M to a project led by IRB Barcelona

The Spanish Association Against Cancer awards €1.2M to a 5-year research project aimed at tackling resistance to chemotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer. The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), based in the Barcelona Science Park, is leading a project that will be done in collaboration with the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria INCLIVA in Valencia, the University of Cantabria and the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) in Santander.

Breast cancer is the second type of cancer with the highest mortality in women, and around 30,000 cases are diagnosed in Spain every year. The most aggressive type, which accounts for approximately 15% of cases, is known as triple-negative. It was given this name because it does not have any of the therapeutic targets that are present in other tumours, so it is treated with general chemotherapy, usually taxanes, anthracyclines and carboplatin. However, a high percentage of patients do not respond to treatment and end up developing resistance and metastasis, the latter being the main cause of death.

Dr. Ángel R. Nebreda, head of the Signalling and Cell Cycle laboratory at IRB Barcelona, is leading a Coordinated Project of the Spanish Association Against Cancer to find features that can predict patient response to chemotherapy, to study the mechanisms underlying resistance, and to identify potential targets to enhance the effectiveness of current drugs and, in short, to define new therapeutic strategies.

The project will be developed in collaboration with Dr. Juan Miguel Cejalvo (Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria INCLIVA in Valencia), Dr. Ignacio Varela (University of Cantabria) and Dr. Fernando Calvo (Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria, IBBTEC). It will last five years and is expected to involve the active participation of more than 20 researchers.

“Triple-negative breast cancer has the worst prognosis of all types of breast tumours. Previous work in the laboratory has allowed us to identify some mechanisms related to the development of resistance to general chemotherapy, and this is what we are going to focus on in this project,” says Dr. Nebreda.

The goal of improving chemotherapy treatment for triple-negative breast cancer will be tackled through two complementary lines of study. On the one hand, transcriptomic analyses will be conducted on human tumours, and on the other, factors that enhance chemotherapy will be identified. Finally, all the information will be pooled to identify mechanisms that regulate the response to chemotherapy, which will be exploited as potential markers or will be modulated to improve the treatment of patients.

» For further information: IRB Barcelona website [+]