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CNIO launches new cancer research contracts thanks to the ‘CNIO Friends’ initiative


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Through its philanthropic initiative known as Amigos/as del CNIO or CNIO Friends, with the slogan #MoreResearchLessCancer, the CNIO has so far received more than three million euros for the CNIO Friends International Contracts programme, thanks to contributions from individuals, companies and associations

The CNIO Friends International Contracts Programme, launched eight years ago, is using these funds to keep talented young researchers in Spain and open up new lines of cancer research on metastases, breast cancer, kidney and liver tumours, among others

One of the contracts included in this year’s programme is largely funded by La Roche Posay, the L’Oréal Group cosmetic brand, to conduct research into skin damage resulting from chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments

The Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) is offering nine new contracts to investigate cancer, thanks to funding received through its philanthropic platform Amigos/as del CNIO – CNIO Friends.

The amount of funding made available through the highly competitive CNIO Friends International Contracts Programme  is continuing to increase. In 2022, nine scientists will be hired to conduct a two-year post-doctoral research project at the Centre, to carry out cutting-edge cancer research projects. 

Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the world. The Spanish Cancer Society estimates that, in Spain, more than 280,100 new cases will be diagnosed in 2022. Survival rates are increasing worldwide through prevention and the development of new treatments, but there are still certain types of tumours that present challenges for researchers and oncologists. Research is crucial to reversing the mortality rate.

Donations turned into contracts to investigate cancer

CNIO Friends is an initiative that was launched in late 2014 to bring cancer research closer to society and promote philanthropy to bring in additional funding to the centre.

Eight years later, the community is now more than 2,300 donors strong, including private individuals, businesses, and associations, who, through their generosity, have raised more than €3 million. The CNIO Friends International Contracts Programme is using these funds to keep talented young researchers in Spain and open up new lines of cancer research on metastases, kidney and liver tumours, among other things, and so far 26 researchers have joined CNIO to complete a two-year stay through the programme.  

This year, the L’Oréal Group’s cosmetic brand La Roche-Posay have signed a new collaboration agreement with CNIO to support cancer research across a number of projects.  The collaboration includes dedicated funding for the CNIO Friends programme to promote the investigation of skin damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

La Roche-Posay has been collaborating with CNIO Friends for four years and has decided on this occasion to take a step further in its support for cancer research by funding a large part of one post-doctoral contract for the next two years.

Leonor Prieto, Pharmacist and Scientific Director of L’Oréal Cosmética Activa, said: “We are very proud to be collaborating with “CNIO Friends” to support the translational research that leads us from basic science to clinical practice in this great challenge to gain a better understanding of cancer, its treatments, and how to improve the lives of cancer patients and their families. And all by bringing young scientists into this field, and encouraging the development of research talent.”

The programme also benefits from the direct and very active collaboration of other companies and foundations. In 2020, a generous donation from Fundación Humanismo y Ciencia financed a full contract, and in 2021 Fundación Domingo Martínez funded another contract. 

In addition, companies such as Brother Iberia, the Simonia Trust, Grupo Santa Lucía, Exterior Plus, José Borrel SA, JCDecaux, and Fundación Solidaridad Carrefour, among others, generously support the programme each year in one way or another. 

From pancreatic cancer to the development of immunotherapies

The researchers who are currently carrying out projects at the Centre thanks to CNIO Friends funding are:

María Magdalena Leal: She is studying how melanoma ‘acts remotely’ before metastasis and how it evades the immune system in different anatomical structures, focusing particularly on the role of the MIDKINE protein in these processes (Melanoma Group). CNIO Friends – Fundación Humanismo y Ciencia contract.

Yurena Vivas: She is working on the possible contribution of non-autonomous factors to the progression of pancreatic cancer. (Metabolism and Cell Division Group). CNIO Friends – Fundación Domingo Martínez contract 

Federico Virga: His work is focused on how to increase the antitumor response of the immune system in the context of pancreatic and lung cancer induced by KRAS oncogenes. His research aims to improve the treatment of these tumours , which are among the most aggressive and lethal types of cancer. (Experimental Oncology Group).

Ana María Roncero: Her research objective is to find better targeted and personalized therapies for patients with advanced Triple Negative (TNNBC) and hormone positive breast tumors. (Breast Cancer Clinical Research Unit).

Laura Nogués: She is investigating the use of the small molecule inhibitor NGFR (THX-B) as an anti-metastatic therapy in melanoma, either by itself or in combination with current immunotherapies, as well as the mechanisms underlying these processes (Microenvironment and Metastasis Group).

Albert Harguindey: He is looking to resolve the basic structure of URI to understand its close relationship with cancer and to propose new therapeutic strategies based on affecting the interactions of this protein complex (Growth Factors, Nutrition and Metastasis Group). CNIO Friends – Franz Weber Fondation contract 

Diana Vara: She is exploring how MASTL-PP2A/B55, a pathway involved in mitosis, regulates metabolism. Given that metabolic changes have implications in cancer but also in other western diseases, these analyses might provide new therapeutic targets to prevent and to treat these illness, improving patients’ lives. (Cell Division Group and Cancer).

Elena Fueyo: She is investigating how tumour cells evade the immune system, crucial knowledge for the development of future immunotherapies. The aim of immunotherapy is to develop treatments that can be more targeted at the tumour and therefore have fewer side effects than conventional therapies (Genome Instability Group).

Postdoctoral Contract “CNIO Friends”


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