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Illustration of breast cancer metastasis to the lung (© R Gomis lab).

Worldwide Cancer Research award goes to an IRB Barcelona project

The international charity organisation Worldwide Cancer Research, with its head office in Scotland, has granted funding to Roger Gomis, ICREA researcher and head of the Growth Control and Cancer Metastasis Lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), located at the Parc Científic de Barcelona (PCB).. Lasting three years, the project awarded seeks to determine the mechanisms that promote metastatic breast cancer cells to abandon their latent state, causing the reproduction of the primary cancer in other organs.

Worldwide Cancer Research funds investigation into cancer performed by renowned scientists and by promising researchers across the world working in competitive centres. Since its foundation in 1979, this organisation has supported a total of 1,717 projects in 34 countries. In previous years, IRB Barcelona was granted funding for three projects, two of which are currently underway, headed by Salvador Aznar Benitah and Eduard Batlle, while the third one, managed by Raúl Méndez, ended in December 2013.

The 27 projects, chosen from over 700 that were presented (success rate below 4%), will receive a total of 7 million euros (almost 5 million pounds sterling). With respect to Gomis’ project, the organisation has granted the full amount requested—240,000 euros.

Research into latent metastases


Metastasis causes 90% of the deaths by cancer in patients with solid tumours. Many questions remain unanswered, such as how metastasis occurs, what allows latent metastases to become activated and lethal several years after removal of the primary tumour, and which gene mediators of metastasis could serve as useful therapeutic targets.

Recently, Gomis’ lab has developed a singular mouse model to study breast cancer metastases with long latency (latency ranging from years to decades). Using this animal model and various imaging techniques, the team aims to identify and characterise the genes involved in latent metastases.