The Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) has granted two important sums to help researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) advance our knowledge of pancreatic cancer and lymphomas, with the aim of developing novel therapeutic modalities and to improve early diagnosis of these diseases.
One of the projects will be coordinated by the researcher Mariano Barbacid, head of CNIO's Experimental Oncology Group, who together with Alfredo Carrato, head of the Oncology Department at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid, and Bruno Sainz, head at the Autonomous University of Madrid, are focusing their research efforts on pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The grant, totalling 1.2 million euros, is part of the Stable Coordinated Groups system, aimed at “promoting state-of-the-art cancer research, coordinated by various teams, following a common thread”, explains the AECC on its website.
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Although its incidence is not very high, only 7.2% of patients survive more than 5 years after the initial diagnosis. These statistics are due to metastasis; pancreatic cancer tends to spread to other organs, such as the liver, significantly reducing the chances of a cure.
The project will make use of the latest diagnostic tools and animal models with the ultimate goal of identifying better diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that will be used in a clinical setting to benefit cancer patients; such as discovering new biomarkers for early detection of the disease.
Another grant will go to the CNIO researcher, Ana Ortega, from the Metabolism and Cell Signalling Group. This project will study the molecular bases underlying follicular lymphoma; the second most common form of malignant nodal lymphoma (which originates in the lymph nodes) in Western Europe.
The annual incidence of this disease has increased over recent decades from 5 to 7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Despite recent therapeutic improvements, this type of cancer is difficult to cure today.
“Follicular lymphoma is considered an indolent or low grade lymphoma as it is not very aggressive; however, it is usually widely extended and is very difficult to eradicate completely”, says Ortega.
In recent years, the AECC has granted over 8 million euros in funding for research projects conducted by CNIO scientists, such as those headed by Maria A. Blasco, Marisol Soengas, Paco Real or Javier Benítez; on top of this, 30 additional aid packages have been granted to study cancer. The aid provided by the AECC has also helped to attract researchers back to Spain from abroad, such as Miguel A. Quintela and David Olmos, who study breast and prostate cancer, respectively, at the CNIO.