Funding of €1.2M from the Spanish Association Against Cancer for a research project on childhood liver cancer coordinated by IGTP

15 February: International Childhood Cancer Day

- Projects, Research

Encouraging news in the framework of the International Day Against Childhood Cancer. The Spanish Association Against Cancer, through its Aid Programmes, has granted 1.2 million euros to the coordinated project "Personalised Medicine for Childhood Liver Cancer". The five-year project will be coordinated by the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP), under the leadership of Dr Carolina Armengol, with the participation of another four Spanish research groups belonging to the Center for Cooperative Research in Biosciences (CIC bioGUNE), led by Dr Malu Martínez-Chantar, Cima Universidad de Navarra, led by Dr Matías Ávila, August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute - IDIBAPS, led by Dr Pau Sancho-Bru, and USAL (Universidad de Salamanca e IBSAL), led by Dr Jose J García Marín. All participating groups are members of the CIBER of Hepatic and Digestive Diseases (CIBEREHD).

Thanks to Dr Armengol's participation in the first international clinical trial PHITT (Paediatric Hepatic International Tumour Trial), this project will study the largest European collection of samples of patients with hepatoblastoma, the main liver tumour that mainly affects children under three years of age. "This collection, unique in the world, will be studied using advanced molecular techniques and will allow the development of innovative experimental models of this disease (which will mimic human tumours)" explains Dr Carolina Armengol, coordinator of the project and principal investigator of IGTP's Children's Liver Oncology Group (c-LOG). "As head of the biological studies of the PHITT clinical trial, I am sure that the results of this project will have a direct impact on improving the treatment of children with liver cancer in the future".

The main objective is to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the aggressiveness and lack of response to pharmacological therapy of tumours, in order to offer new tools (biomarkers, therapeutic targets, etc.) and more effective therapies to combat childhood liver tumours.

The incidence of hepatoblastoma is increasing and the causes for the emergence of this tumour and its resistance to treatment are unknown. Its low incidence (1 case per thousand) and the difficulty of access to biological samples has prevented further advances in its treatment: it still causes serious adverse effects throughout life and is ineffective in 20% of patients with aggressive and metastatic tumours.

The objective of the Spanish Association Against Cancer Aid Programmes is to fund cancer research in Spain. Quality research for the benefit of the general population and patients, from basic knowledge of the disease to its clinical application.