The BIST centre IBEC has opened a selection process to recruit specialised research personnel to carry out 16 collaborative projects within the ‘Complementary Plan for Biotechnology Applied to Health’. Four of the projects are led by the BIST centres CRG and IRB Barcelona, and one is headed by IBEC. The initiative is financed by the Spanish Government and the Autonomous Communities (CCAA), through Next Generation EU funds.
The new ‘Complementary Plan for Biotechnology Applied to Health in Catalonia’ research programme is coordinated by the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and funded by the Spanish Government and the Generalitat de Catalunya through the Next Generation EU funds, also known as the Covid-19 economic recovery package. The ‘Complementary Plan’ has a total budget of 37.27 million euros.
Various R&D&I actions will be implemented within this framework, and IBEC has opened a selection process to recruit 20 highly qualified research personnel for 18 months to work within 16 selected research projects in Catalonia. The collaborative nature of the projects will allow the new researchers to develop their activity either in the research institutes or in the health research centres of each consortium, promoting the establishment of alliances among the entities of the participating autonomous communities.
From the 16 projects that were selected for the ‘Complementary Plan’, two are led by CRG (MITOCANCER and STOP-DMG), two by IRB Barcelona (OsteoMetTherapy and COXPD1) and one by IBEC (ADNano).
MITOCANCER – new strategies for cancer therapy
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second leading cause of cancer-related death. Although effective treatments exist, half of all cases still result in relapse within the first five years, mostly because the tumours become resistant. New therapeutic targets and approaches are required to successfully treat this important cause of mortality.
ICREA Research Professor Isabelle Vernos, Group Leader of the Microtubule Function and Cell Division within the Quantitative Cell Biology research programme at the CRG, is an expert in cell division. Her group has found preliminary evidence that an enzyme involved in modifying microtubules could be a promising new therapeutic target.
Combining Vernos group’s expertise with the clinical expertise of the Ramon y Cajal group at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), the researchers plan to validate the potential new therapeutic target using single-cell technologies to analyse samples from breast cancer patients. The researchers will also collaborate with Professor Mabel Loza at the Innopharma Centre, part of the Santiago de Compostela University in Galicia, to screen for active compounds against the enzyme which may provide novel therapeutic value.
STOP-DMG – identifying and validating therapeutic targets for diffuse midline glioma
Diffuse midline gliomas are primary tumours that affect the central nervous system. Though the exact cause of the disease is unknown, mutations that change the genome’s three-dimensional architecture is thought to play an important role in the tumour’s growth, which results in an aggressive cancer that affects children between six and twelve years of age.
ICREA Research Professor Luciano Di Croce is an expert in characterising molecular mechanisms involved in genome regulation, and how this is linked to cancer. He is currently Head of the Epigenetic Events in Cancer group within the Genome Biology research programme at the CRG. Di Croce’s group has recently identified several key genes that are crucial for the growth of diffuse midline gliomas. Using animal models, they found inhibiting these genes could help treat tumours.
The researchers will work alongside Dr. Mora’s group at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu to validate this work in patient-derived xenografts. They will also collaborate with Professor Mabel Loza at the Innopharma Centre to screen for other potential new therapeutic targets. Altogether, the research project could pave the way for repurposing existing drugs to help treat diffuse midline glioma.
Further information about the projects lead by IRB Barcelona and IBEC will be published once available.