The Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) has received two projects in the last call of the Associación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC) to investigate stomach cancer and malignant melanoma. The projects, worth 1,200,000 euros each, are led by Dr. Diego Arango, group leader of the Molecular Oncology Nanomedicine CIBBIM-VHIR, and Dr. Maria S. Soengas, from the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas, who will coordinate a research on melanoma with the participation of Dr. Juan Ángel Recio, head of the Melanoma Group at VHIR.
The project of Dr. Arango will be carried out entirely at Vall d’Hebron, by his team and researchers from the group of General Surgery, led by Dr. Manuel Armengol, and from the Pathology and Medical Oncology Service of the Hospital. The aim of the project is to investigate the role of RhoA signaling pathway, a protein that is frequently mutated in stomach tumors, to improve the clinical management of these patients and open new therapeutic opportunities for this disease.
In the first phase, researchers at CIBBIM will study in detail the effects of modulation of RhoA signaling pathway that, recently, has been discovered to be affected in a high proportion of tumors of the stomach. Besides, they will investigate whether mutations RhoA and/or expression levels may predict the prognosis of patients and their response to treatment, and preclinical studies will exploit therapeutically defects in this signaling pathway.
On the other hand, Dr. Recio participates, along with five laboratories, in a project to develop tumor biomarkers that will allow early intervention to different subtypes of malignant melanoma. Researchers also aim to find new therapies that can be an alternative treatment in these patients who are resistant to the threatment based on immunostimulatory agents or genetically targeted treatments.
Despite major advances in the diagnosis of melanoma lesions, the molecular interfering in the initiation and progression of different types of melanoma are little characterized. This deficiency is important because in any of melanoma lesions apparently minimal, up to 2 millimeters thick, already have a high metastatic potential. It is a very high risk, since researchers warn that a considerable fraction of patients with metastatic melanoma do not respond to treatment or do so only temporarily.
In total, the AECC has allocated 6.7 million this year in projects that are among the forefront of international research. Among these projects there are two led by scientists from the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO): Dr. Stephan Tembau, who aims to develop therapeutic inhibitors for colorectal cancer, and Dr. Cristina Cruz, who will investigate new therapies for breast cancer.