UIC Barcelona Biomedicine researchers receive support from “la Caixa” Foundation to reach out to patients

The project led by researcher Roni Wright has been one of the 15 initiatives chosen in the CaixaResearch Validate 2022 call, and will receive financial support of up to €100,000 and specialised training in key areas such as technology transfer and marketing

The “la Caixa” Foundation announced the 15 leading biomedical research projects in Spain and Portugal that it will support under the framework of the CaixaResearch Validate 2022 call. A panel of European experts and professionals in the field of life sciences and health sciences was in charge of selecting these projects, which the entity wants to support to speed up their launch on the market and bring them closer to patients who may need them.

Among the selected projects is the study “Towards a new treatment for metastatic breast cancer”, led by UIC Barcelona researcher Roni Wright and which will be conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG). As Wright explains, “One in 12 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Despite the fact that diagnosis at an early stage is associated with a higher percentage of survival, 35% of these cases will eventually metastasise. It is true that promising treatments for these types of cancer currently exist, however the research carried out in recent years shows that a high percentage of tumours develop resistance.” 

In 2016, Wright and the research group from Dr Miguel Beato’s laboratory (CRG) showed, in the study published in the journal Science and carried out with the support of the European Research Council and AGAUR, that the progression of certain types of cancer depends on the ability of tumour cells to produce energy (ATP) in their nucleus and that blocking the NUDIX5 enzyme could open the door to effective treatment in aggressive breast cancer. “The CaixaResearch Validate grant will contribute to the development of a therapeutic compound, which we have called HitX that targets a key protein, NUDT5, in the PARP1 enzyme,” Roni Wright explained. “When a very high level of this protein is present in metastatic breast tumours, the risk of tumour recurrence and metastasis is high. With this project, we want to optimise HitX to confirm its therapeutic potential and move toward the development of a new treatment for metastatic breast cancer.”

As the head of the research says, “This support represents an incredible opportunity to immerse myself in Catatonia’s inspiring business ecosystem, and also be able to transfer the discoveries made in the laboratory to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

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