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Catalan researcher chosen for international colon cancer study

Head of oncology at Vall d'Hebron hospital will take part in worldwide Grand Challenge project

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24 January 2019 05:53 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

A top researcher at the Vall d'Hebron hospital will take part in an award winning project from Cancer Research UK (CRUK), part of the prestigious Grand Challenge program, as part of a team exploring the relationship between the microbiome and colon cancer.

The director of the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and head of the Medical Oncology Department at the hospital, doctor Josep Tabernero, will help find in finding out the difference between a healthy microbiome and one associated with the cancer.

The human body contains 100 billion microorganisms that include bacteria, fungi and viruses that together form a biological community called the microbiome, which differs from organ to organ and person to person, in much the same way as fingerprints.

The OPTIMISTICC project

The project that the VHIO researchers will carry out is called OPTIMISTICC, which is the Catalan acronym for Opportunity to Research the Impact of the Microbiome in Science and the Treatment of Colon Cancer.

Two professors from Boston's Cancer Institute will oversee the research, which includes other researchers from the US, as well as Canada, the UK, the Netherlands and Spain. The project will be financed with almost 23 million euros in funds.

  • "Our research can not only benefit patients with colon cancer, but will also be applicable to other tumors"

    Josep Tabernero · Researcher at Vall d'Hebron hospital

"I am confident that our research can not only benefit patients with colon cancer, but will also be applicable to other tumors in which the microbiome can play a role," said doctor Tabernero about the project.

New cancer treatment from Sant Joan de Déu hospital

Meanwhile, the Sant Joan de Déu hospital has developed a new experimental treatment for retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that develops from immature retina cells and accounts for some 11% of the malignant tumors in children under a year.

The new treatment, which is currently undergoing clinical trials and that has already been tried out on two children with good results, consists of injecting the eye affected by the tumor with a genetically modified virus that finds, attacks and destroys the cancerous cells.

Oncologist at the hospital, Guillermo Chantada, explained that in almost 100% of cases the cancer is curable, but that in between 20% and 30% of cases the tumor does not respond to chemotherapy, requiring the eye to be removed to avoid the risk of metastasis.

"Our dream is that with this new treatment we will not have to remove another eye from another patient," said Chantada.

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  • Vall d'hebron's researcher Josep Tabernero in a congress in Chicago in 2017 (VHIO)

  • Vall d'hebron's researcher Josep Tabernero in a congress in Chicago in 2017 (VHIO)

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